In most cases, employees filing for Workers' Compensation after a workplace illness or injury will be able to return to the same position after receiving medical treatment and perhaps taking time off to fully recover.
In some cases, however, an injured employee may discover that their condition is serious enough that they will no longer be able to return to their specific occupation.
For those who have spent much of their adult lives working in the same industry, the idea of training for something entirely new may feel daunting and job retraining can be expensive.
So, the simple answer to the question is... maybe. The real answer is a bit more complex.
What Kinds of Workplace Injuries Result in Job Change?
There are many different types of work-related injuries that could lead to a need to change your job-type, especially in physically demanding warehouse or construction industries.
While most South Carolina workers are given information on the basics of Workers' Compensation and how to report an injury on the job, most don't know that Workers' Compensation can also be utilized to help train for a new position in the event that an injured employee is no longer able to perform the same work they did before.
If an individual whose career is focused in manufacturing receives a severe repetitive stress injury, for instance, they may no longer be able to maintain employment in that sector. A construction worker with a chronic back injury due to workplace conditions may never be able to return to construction without risking further severe damage. Someone who suffers occupational hearing loss may be unable to return to work where good hearing is a requirement of the job.
In this case, Workers' Compensation may be able to help cover the costs of vocational rehabilitation to help the employee seek new employment, either within the same company or elsewhere.
Does Vocational Rehabilitation Mean I Have to Quit?
In some cases, vocational rehabilitation professionals will help people seek employment in entirely new locations or industries, but they won't always need to. Even those with serious, long-term injuries may be able to return to their original job with some accommodations.
If an employee's injury is severe enough that they can't return to their previous job, they may be able to return in a different capacity, such as switching from factory floor work to quality control, from on-site construction to overseeing materials, or perhaps into administrative work, with some retraining.
A vocational rehabilitation professional will focus on identifying current job skills, what limitations have been caused by the workplace illness or injury, any accommodations that may allow an injured employee to return to work, and what skills they may need to acquire in order to take on a new position if needed.
They can also help to identify what types of long-term treatment may be most effective in the case of this specific injury.
Is Vocational Rehabilitation Included in Most Workers' Compensation Settlements?
Many employers will not want to cover vocational rehabilitation services as part of a Workers' Compensation settlement.
In this case, it's good to have legal representation with experience in Workers' Compensation claims. They can help compile important documentation, and know what is needed to pursue vocational rehab as part of a Workers' Comp settlement.
It is important that you receive the services you need to be successful in new endeavors after you've suffered an injury due to workplace conditions or events. Experienced legal representation can help ensure that your rights are truly represented and defended.
Need Help With Workers' Comp in Columbia, SC?
The Bluestein Attorneys law firm is here to help. We have experience working alongside employees fighting for Workers' Compensation in South Carolina, and we've made it our mission to ensure that the rights of injured workers are fully represented.