Do I Have to Use My Vacation Time if I'm Out Because of a Work-Related Injury?
If you’re injured at work, should you ever be using your PTO or sick leave because of your injury? A work-related injury brings with it a number of concerns -- paying the bills and keeping a roof over your family’s head is usually at the top of the list. The entire purpose of Workers’ Compensation is to help injured workers deal with these issues, and one of the most important benefits of Workers’ Compensation is TD (Temporary Disability), which pays out 2/3 of your average weekly wages while you cannot work due to your workplace injury.
In a perfect world, TD would take care of everything, and you’d never use any of your paid time off to deal with Workers’ Compensation. In reality, the issue can be far more complex. Here are a few reasons injured workers sometimes wind up using their vacation time:
Insurance companies are notorious for their unethical behavior, and Workers’ Compensation insurance companies are no exception.
Workers’ Compensation claims for real, legitimate injuries are denied too often, leaving injured workers with no choice but to use paid time off and sick leave to go to doctor’s appointments or simply to recover. Even if your claim is eventually accepted, there is often a period of delay while the Workers’ Compensation insurance company reviews your case. These delay periods can sometimes be drawn out. Many workers also apply for State Disability while their case is delayed or denied. The good news is that an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney will make sure you’re compensated for any time off you used in the form of retro-TD (temporary disability back-paid to the date of your injury).
There is a cap on how long you can receive TD (Temporary Disability)
As previously mentioned, Workers’ Compensation provides wage replacement for injured workers who cannot work in the form of TD (Temporary Disability). However, TD is not indefinite. There is a 104 week cap on TD benefits, which can be extended to 208 weeks in the case of certain severe injuries and illnesses. Some injured workers simply may not be well enough to return to work after hitting their cap for TD benefits. If you are still recovering from your workplace injury but have no TD left, it might be necessary to use whatever PTO you have accrued, in conjunction with SDI, in order to take care of yourself and your family.
Workers’ Compensation doctors are not all created equal
Injured workers receive TD (Temporary Disability) on the recommendation of work restrictions issued by their Workers’ Compensation doctor, known as the PTP (Primary Treating Physicians). You only receive TD if your PTP says that you cannot work, or if the amount of work that your PTP says you are able to do pays less than what you normally earn. Unfortunately, some PTPs are more sympathetic to the plight of the insurance company than to the plight of the injured workers they treat. A bad PTP might tell you to go back to work before you’re ready, and it’s better to use up vacation time than to risk aggravating your injury.
Having the right PTP is crucial to your Workers’ Compensation case, and that’s one of the reasons it’s important to have good Workers’ Compensation attorneys on your side. Workers’ Compensation lawyers will be familiar with the doctors in your insurance company’s network, and will help you choose a doctor who will be on your side, not the insurance company’s.
In short, you legally shouldn’t have to use your vacation time because of a work-related injury, but due to complications with insurance and workers’ compensation docter sometimes it’s simply unavoidable.
It’s important to consult with a top Workers’ Compensation attorney to make sure that you’re treated fairly by the insurance company and that you receive fair compensation for any time off you use because of your Workers’ Compensation claim.
Pacific Workers' Compensation Law Center are the lawyers for injured workers. Our aggressive representation and top-tier customer service make us the best Workers' Compensation attorneys in Northern California.