This is a very important question for every injured worker.  If an injured worker is not capable of returning to the job they were doing at the time of the accident, it is important to understand whether the injured worker is on light duty, restricted duty or some of type of modified work from their doctor or if the injured worker is completely unable to work. 

What is required? 

The medical documents from an injured workers treating physician should contain a clear statement that the injured worker is disabled or on a "no work" status  and that the disability is a result of the injury or disease. The medical documents should say what period the injured worker will be or was totally unable to work.  If the employee has been released to light duty by a physician, the medical statement should state the specific work restrictions or limitations.  

Important Requirement when an injured worker is on light duty 

When an injured worker files a claim for wage loss benefits, the Injured worker must show that he or she has sought work within the work restrictions. Lawyers call this "marketing residual capacity. Again, this is only required when an injured worker is not completely unable to work.  An injured workers duty to "market" has become a complex issue in recent year.  The Virginia Workers Compensation Commission has established general, but flexible guidelines for the injured workers search as follows:

Factors the Commission considers - In deciding whether a partially disabled employee has made a reasonable effort to find suitable light duty employment the Commission considers such factors as :

    1. The nature and extent of the disability;
    2. The employee's training, age, experience and education;
    3. The nature and extent of the job search;
    4. The availability of jobs in the area suitable for the employee considering his disability
    5. Any other matter affecting the employee's capacity to find suitable employment.

Evidence that an injured worker has marketed:

  1. It is presumed that in most cases the claimant made a reasonable effort to market residual work capacity when he or she
  2. (a) registered with the Virginia Employment Commission within a reasonable time after being released to return to work and
  3. (b) directly contacted at least five potential employers per week where the employee has a reasonable basis to believe that there might be a job available that he or she might be able to perform1 and
  4. (c) if appropriate, contacted the pre-injury employer for light duty work. 
  5. Keep a job search record –
    1. Information provided by the injured worker about job contacts should be supported by facts, preferably in writing, about the names of the employers contacted; where the employers are located; the date(s) the contact was made;
    2. whether the contact was in person, by phone or via internet; and the result of the contact.
  6. Pre-injury skills or experience - Where an injured worker has particular job skills or training, he or she may focus the search on jobs in that field if there are jobs in that field that the employee can reasonably perform. However, if within a reasonable amount of time the search is not successful, the employee must broaden the search beyond that field.
  7. Method of Contacting Employers - Employer contacts should be conducted in a manner reasonably suited to the position sought, which in some cases may be personal visits. In other cases, contacts may be by phone, internet, mail, or through employment agents such as union hiring halls.
  8. Attempt to maximize earnings - If the employee locates and takes a job that pays substantially less than his or her pre-injury job, the employee should continue looking for

The above content is from the Virginia Workers Compensation WebsiteCommission website.