I contracted Valley Fever (a very serious fungal lung infection) while working at an outdoor jobsite in California a few months ago, and I have a Workers’ Compensation claim. My doctor has given me work restrictions. My employer sent me an offer of modified work at a Goodwill store. I am a skilled Building Trades worker and cannot do my regular job. Do I have to show up to the modified work even though it is not a laborer position? What else can I do?
Nobody wants to be injured on the job. In a Workers’ Compensation case, when you first get injured, the most important thing to do is to report your injury. Once you have reported it, you should ask to see a doctor, so you are on the right track in that regard. We still recommend, though, that you consult an attorney, especially since Valley Fever can be quite serious, involves different body systems and can require multiple specialists. When the medical treatment becomes more complex, an experienced attorney can help you navigate the thorny Workers’ Compensation system.
To answer your first question, you must show up to modified work that is being offered by your employer if it is within the work restrictions given to you by your treating doctor. This is one of the many frustrating aspects of the unfair Workers’ Compensation system, as some “modified duty” can be in a demeaning context. Even if the modified work being offered has nothing to do with your position, if it is within the restrictions, you have to show up to avoid losing potential benefits. You do receive your full hourly wage and benefits while working modified duty. Again, consulting with a lawyer is highly recommended; a lawyer can help you switch doctors if necessary, and advise you regarding additional benefits that may be owed to you.
Finally, you should consult a lawyer because you might have a Third Party case. If a company other than your employer is responsible for you contracting Valley Fever, you could have a civil Third Party lawsuit in addition to your Workers’ Compensation case. Third party lawsuits result in substantially more money than that in Workers’ Compensation cases, so don’t delay.
-Hillary Allyn, The Arns Law Firm, San Francisco, CA
For more information on work-site accidents and
your legal options, visit the ARNS Website.
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This Month's Expert; Hillary Allyn
Hillary Allyn has a strong background in Workers' Compensation. She litigates cases involving construction injury, workers' compensation, personal injury, employment discrimination, and serious and willful employer misconduct.
Hillary was an extern to the Honorable Judge Teri Jackson at the San Francisco Superior Court. Her experience and her fluency in Spanish allow her to successfully represent our Spanish-speaking client base.