Receiving a Notice of Ability to Return to Work can be very jarring for someone who was injured on the job and has filed a workers’ compensation claim. Effectively, this is written notice, as sent by your employer and its insurance carrier, that you have been cleared for work (medically speaking.) This notice often follows a medical examination, as conducted by your employer’s insurance carrier, which can often reflect a bias and not truly reflect that you have recovered from your injuries and can return to work.
If you have received a notice like this one, particularly if your own doctor disagrees that you can (medically, safely) return to work, it is crucial that you retain an experienced attorney as soon as possible. It is entirely probable that your employer will move to suspend your workers’ compensation benefits after sending this notice, so you must act quickly to contest the assertions of the insurance carrier. Your attorney will need to present testimony on your behalf, including that of a supporting medical expert, if the carrier files a petition with a workers’ compensation judge to adjust your benefits.
This year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that Section 306(b)(3) of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act does not require an employer to provide an injured employee with a written Notice of Ability to Return to Work before offering alternative employment where the injured employee did not file a claim petition and thus proved entitlement to workers’ compensation. In other words, the employer does not have an obligation to disclose evidence of a change in the employee’s physical condition if an employee has not established their entitlement to benefits and thus the employee’s physical condition has not yet been determined.
This does not mean that the employer does not have any notice requirements under section 306(b)(3), but rather that the claim petition is key to triggering these employer requirements. Notice requirements are relevant once there is a determination that the employee’s alleged disability is work-related.
However, this highlights the need for experienced attorneys to get involved early on in the process for workers’ compensation claims. In order to make sure that you are on track to receive benefits, and these benefits will not be unjustly halted, you must ensure that you take every required step in the process and do not miss any of the tight deadlines.
Place a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorney on Your Side
Time is of the essence when it comes to workers’ compensation benefits. Hiring a skilled lawyer as early as possible maximizes your chances of retaining your benefits. The experienced team at Solnick & Associates can help. Contact us today for a free initial consultation. We look forward to discussing your case.