A question we get asked on a pretty regular basis is “can and/or should I quit my job and start a new one while on workers compensation?”. The short answer is yes, but beware of the potential pitfalls along the way. If you’ve been injured on the job, but are back at work because the injury isn’t affecting your ability to work, or are doing some type of modified duty while getting paid two thirds of your wages and your dream job comes along, then by all means pursue your dreams. Or, maybe your spouse has gotten a new job in another state and you’re all of the sudden faced with a relocation which forces you to leave your job.
The important thing to keep in mind is whether or not leaving your job to take on a new role is necessary. Is this something you really want to do? If so, don’t let the worker’s compensation treatment and injury stop you from pursuing your dreams. You can still get benefits even if you quit your job. But, here’s where it can get complicated. Here are a few pitfalls you may encounter if you do choose to take on a different job.
Number one. You may not get lost wage benefits from your worker’s compensation insurance company if you’ve quit your job and aren’t making what you used to make. For example, let’s say you used to make $1,000 per week before you got injured, and are now back on the job working modified duty making the same income. You decide to take another job that happens to pay less than what you were making previously, you’re most likely not going to get those lost wages from the insurance company.
Number two. Make sure you aren’t doing anything that will aggravate your condition, or constitute a new injury. If you’ve started your new job and somehow aggravate your condition to the point of causing a delay in treatment, you’ll very quickly start to see the insurance company attempt to blame your need for current treatment not on the injury you sustained with them, but rather on your new job. This can absolutely complicate your case. Oftentimes what we’ll have to do at this point is step in and file another claim against your new employer, which can make life a bit difficult.
Number three. Things aren’t exactly going to plan at your new job. Maybe you get laid off and are now out of work altogether. Now you’ve got restrictions. We probably can’t get you wage loss unless your restrictions tighten up or change. As always, this is largely fact dependent. For example, if you need surgery that requires time be taken off from your new job, depending on the facts surrounding the matter, chances are we can get secure wage loss in that situation.
Our general advice is if you’ve been offered your dream job, are relocating due to family needs, or another circumstance where leaving your job is a necessity, talk it through with your attorney so they can guide you along the way with specific advice as it pertains to your case. We absolutely recommend consulting with us first so you’re fully aware of the risks up-front and can know what to expect.
Whatever you do, don’t quit your job simply because you feel that your employer is accommodating your restrictions. For example, you’re not supposed to lift more than 10 pounds, but your employer is not accommodating this restriction. They’re saying that you have to lift more than you’re supposed to, and feel your only option is to leave that job. Please, talk to us first. We need to make sure that the reason you’re leaving the job is well documented (i.e. your employer not accommodating you). The worst thing you can do is stop showing up. Having legal representation in your case can help make sure that if you need to leave work because of injury reasons, there’s written documentation to back up your claim.
Work injuries in Colorado can be very complicated. You need somebody walking alongside you who can help guide you through this long process. At Kaplan Morrell, we’ve been helping injured and disabled workers since 1995. We do work injuries. We’re very good at it, and we would love to serve you or anyone you know. Please call us at 970-356-9898.