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Can You Work While on Workers Compensation? (2024 Statistics)

Whether you can work while on workers’ compensation depends on various factors, including the severity of your injury, your doctor’s recommendations, and the laws in your state. Ultimately, whether you can work while on workers’ compensation will depend on the unique circumstances of your injury, your doctor’s recommendations, and state laws.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

What is Workers Compensation?

The inception of workers’ compensation systems aimed to offer partial medical care and financial support to employees affected by job-related injuries or illnesses. Additionally, these systems incentivize employers to mitigate work-related risks and promote a safer workplace environment.

A majority of employers buy workers’ compensation insurance coverage through private insurers or state-certified compensation insurance funds. Larger employers may also have the option to self-insure. These systems are complex and governed by state laws – CDC Stated

Can I Work While on Worker’s Compensation?

In most cases, you cannot work while receiving workers’ compensation benefits, with some exceptions based on your injury.

However, one exception exists: you may be permitted to work part-time or in a reduced capacity if approved by your workers’ comp doctor. If your doctor determines you can handle certain job tasks and your employer offers a position that accommodates your limitations, you may be able to work without forfeiting your benefits.

Unfortunately, not all employers can provide adjusted roles, which could result in the inability to continue working while receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Also Read: Workers’ Comp Appeal Wait Time

What Happens if I Get Caught Working While on Workers Comp?

The majority of workers’ compensation fraud cases in California fall under the category of “California wobblers,” meaning they can be prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies under state law.

For those convicted of workers’ compensation fraud as a felony, potential penalties include imprisonment ranging from two (2) to five (5) years. Additionally, fines for felony offenses may reach up to one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000), or double the amount of the fraudulent claim (whichever is greater).

Conversely, workers’ compensation fraud prosecuted as a misdemeanor may result in a county jail sentence of up to one (1) year in most instances.

Can I Be Terminated While on Worker’s Compensation?

Workers’ compensation laws dictate that an employer cannot dismiss an employee solely because they suffered a workplace injury or filed a workers’ compensation claim. However, this doesn’t imply that employers are restricted from terminating employees for any reason altogether.

In most states across the U.S., employment operates under “at-will” principles. This means that employees are free to resign from their positions at any time and for any reason, just as employers can terminate employees at their discretion, as long as the rationale doesn’t contravene the law.

The crux of the matter lies in the fact that terminating an employee solely due to their on-the-job injury or while they’re receiving workers’ compensation benefits is unlawful.

Workers Comp Cost Statistics

  • The most expensive lost-time workers’ compensation claims based on injury type are those resulting from amputation, averaging $126,033 per claim in 2020 and 2021.
  • Other trauma injuries follow closely, with an average cost of $63,044 per claim, while injuries resulting in fracture, crush, or dislocation have an average cost of $62,240.
  • Burns also ranks among the highest in cost, averaging $52,222 per lost-time workers’ compensation claim.
  • The most costly lost-time workers’ compensation claims based on the part of the body affected are those involving the head or central nervous system, averaging $94,285 per claim in 2020 and 2021.
  • Neck injuries come next in terms of cost, with an average of $65,659 per claim, followed by injuries involving multiple body parts at an average cost of $62,257.
  • Injuries to the leg have an above-average cost, averaging $60,901 per lost-time workers’ compensation claim, while those affecting the hip, thigh, and pelvis have an average cost of $60,155.
  • Lastly, injuries to the arm or shoulders also incur significant costs, averaging $49,838 per claim.

Source: NSC Injury Facts [1].

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