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What if, post-worker's compensation, I can't return to my old job?

When injuries happen on the job, workers typically enjoy full recovery. But sometimes the injury has lasting effects or an especially slow recovery and you can't do the same work anymore.

It's possible for a worker's compensation claim to be completed before full recovery, either via light duty work that limits physical labor, such as mobility or lifting, by offering a vacant position that's a better fit with your new long term needs or, in the case of permanent injury, through a state sponsored return-to-work program.

Modified work

Also called light duty, modified work means a job that is approved by your doctor but comes with reduced physical stress on your injuries. If, for example, you sprain an ankle on the job, a physician can approve light duty work to stay off one's feet in place of regular duties, such as performing administrative tasks. Light duty is often part-time or paid less, but the law requires that worker's compensation pick up the balance until a full recovery.

Reemployment

If you're permanently injured and can't return to your old job, or if the company restructured and your job doesn't exist anymore, they must find a new comparable position that fits within your physical limitations. Criteria that must line up include similar wages, duties, skills, location and hours/shift.

Return-to-work programs

Sometimes there is no comparable position that meets your needs after an injury. In those cases, the state of Oregon and your employer's worker's compensation insurance carrier offer alternatives that include financial assistance for lower paying work, placement at new organizations or employers, and vocational training for new fields of expertise.

Being injured on the job doesn't mean banishment from the factory floor or worksite, merely that adjustments need to be made. State law requires accommodations for your injury and offers a variety of ways to meet those needs. To quality, workers have to follow the right steps but an injury is rarely a career-changing catastrophe.

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