No matter the safety precautions you take at work, you’re not always in control in the event of an accident. Fortunately, injured employees are often eligible for workers’ compensation benefits that can help them get by and afford medical treatment while they heal. Once the employee has reached their maximum medical improvement and has received medical clearance, they can speak with their employer and determine at what capacity they are able to return to work.
The process for receiving full and fair workers’ comp benefits isn’t always as easy as it should be. Some employees even run into issues where their employer tried to reduce their workers’ compensation benefits. In order to understand what you’re entitled to and how to know if you’re receiving less than you deserve, let’s take a look at petitions employers can file when an employee seeks workers’ compensation benefits.
Petitions Employers Can File Against Workers’ Comp
If you’ve recently been awarded workers’ compensation benefits for a temporary or permanent disability sustained at work, you’re likely expecting to receive your weekly checks so you can cover your bills and make it to your doctor’s appointments. At some point during your recovery, you may receive a petition in the mail to have your benefits modified, suspended, or terminated. If that happens, you’ll want to get in touch with an attorney immediately, as the deadlines to respond to such petitions are very short.
If a petition is filed against your benefits, you will need to attend a hearing—which is a complicated process. Your employer’s insurance company will have lawyers that are prepared to provide evidence as to why your benefits should be modified or stopped. When you have a lawyer experienced in employment laws and workers’ compensation by your side, you won’t have to worry about losing the benefits you’re rightfully owed.
Petition to Modify Benefits
If your employer files a petition to modify compensation benefits, they are looking for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to reduce the amount of money you’re receiving. Their reasoning for the request will be stated on the petition. While their reasoning will depend on your unique situation, it’s likely to revolve around the idea that your injury is no longer as disabling as it was before.
If a physician releases you for a modified position, also referred to as “light duty,” this could be a reason why your employer would seek to modify your benefits. If you feel the modified job, as described by your employer, exceeds the physical restrictions from your doctor, a lawyer can help you prove your case.
Petition to Suspend Benefits
If you’re employer files a petition to suspend your workers’ compensation benefits, they are requesting that your payments be stopped. Suspension requests may occur if your employer believes you have failed to comply with certain requirements of the Workers’ Compensation Act. For example, if your employer has a different job available for you that you refuse, even though it pays the same amount of your pre-injury job and you’ve been cleared by your doctor, they will likely want to suspend your benefits until you comply or a different agreement is reached.
Petition to Terminate Benefits
When an employer requests a petition to terminate an employee’s compensation benefits, they are asking the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to stop the payment of benefits passed on a doctor’s report that the employee is no longer injured and is fully able to return to work.
Whether you disagree with the doctor’s assessment or you weren’t informed of their decision, you’ll need strong evidence that you are still unable to return to work.
It’s important to note that, regardless of the type of petition filed, you must attend the scheduled hearing. If you fail to do so, your payments may be stopped and your job could be at risk. The right attorney can advise you on how best to handle your situation.
Seek Legal Help in Columbia, South Carolina
If you’ve been injured at work and are having trouble receiving the benefits you need to recover, a lawyer from Solomon Law Group can receive your case and help you determine how to proceed.
We understand how sensitive workers’ compensation matters can be—especially depending on the relationship you have with your employer. It’s important, however, to remember that you can only do your job if you are physically and mentally at your best.
To learn more about filing a claim or what your options are in the event your employer is trying to reduce or terminate your benefits, schedule a consultation with our firm today.