Reduce Workers Comp Costs by Offering Light Duty: Recent NY Decision about Return to Light Duty Offers

A just-published NY decision,  Browne v. Medford Multicare (2011 NY Slip Op 07764), gives employers greater than ever incentives for return to work offers in NY comp claims.

The Board conceded that the worker had a partial disability. However, the employer had made an offer of lighter work, which at least one medical exam said was within her limits. The worker turned down the offer for lighter work. (WCxKit)
Even though the treating doctor advised that she not take the offer, the Board said that the evidence supported her ability to do lighter work and halted further payments of compensation.
The decision demonstrates the value of offers of modified work by the employer. Settlement awards for ongoing partial disability can be reduced to a fraction with offers of lighter, modified work.
The offer, and meetings leading to an offer, are part of the employer-employee relationship, not the comp claim, and are not controlled by the Board, carrier/TPA or the attorneys. Such meetings, often with spouse present, permit flexibility and an atmosphere of trust, as the parties have already been in contact many times before.
A little recognized feature of RTW meetings is that they can be part of ADA compliance. It is a fallacy that ADA applies only to hiring. Retention is covered as well.
The NY decision, coupled with expanded ADA compliance, can substantially reduce comp costs. A 20% reduction is quite feasible. It should be remembered that family members generally support all efforts to return a member to work as soon as possible.

Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca
is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, NY. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100.


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
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