One thing I really like about most of the people that contact us is that they really want to work. There’s a BS stereotype that some people just want to be off on work comp. I’m not saying that never happens, but almost everyone I talk to just wants to be healthy and back at work. Sitting at home in pain isn’t fun and can be boring.
A nurse who appears to be a really hard worker contacted me after an ankle injury. She can’t walk for about three months following a significant surgery. Being a nurse she has to be on her feet all day of course, so she can’t work. She asked if she could do her job with a knee scooter and her hospital said no. So she’s sitting at home with nothing to do. She reached out to a friend of hers and was offered a job doing medical billing work from home. It’s not exciting or her preference, but it gives her something to do all day.
Her question to me is can she do this? The answer is yes she can, but she has to be really careful about it. You can’t “double dip” and get paid for a job and also get your weekly workers’ compensation benefits (known as TTD benefits). So unless she is doing casual work here and there, which this isn’t, her pay would either go to the insurance company or would lower her TTD payments.
I say to be careful for a couple of reasons. First off, you don’t want to get accused of insurance fraud. So it’s important that you have a lawyer craft a carefully worded letter and get approval from work comp to do this. They will likely be happy for it to happen as it saves money for them. The second reason to be careful is you need to make sure this new job won’t in any way risk you making your work injury worse. If it could, you could lose your right to benefits. Third, she really wants to go back as a nurse so she has to be careful that taking on this other temporary work isn’t seen as a resignation. This again is where your lawyer can add value and protect you by making sure everything is done in a way that makes clear no resignation is taking place.
Bottom line is that it’s something you can do but only should do after talking to an attorney. I’ve seen many people over the years screw their case up by having another job that nobody knows about.
Speaking of having another job, if at the time of your accident you were working two jobs, if you can’t work the job you got hurt on, but can work the other one, you can continue to do that, but still should talk to your lawyer about it. If your hours greatly increase because you have more free time, that could be an issue. And if you are unable to work both jobs, you should likely get paid for being off of both jobs.
This is a really important issue and one that truly requires you to be thoughtful and careful. If you’d like to speak with a lawyer for free to go over your options, you can call us any time.