LOUISIANA WORKERS COMPENATION VOCATIONAL
The goal of "Vocational
Rehabilitation" is to get injured employees back to work as
soon as possible. Louisiana Revised Statute 23:1226(B)
B. (1) The goal of
rehabilitation services is to return a disabled worker to
work, with a minimum of retraining, as soon as possible
after an injury occurs. The first appropriate option among
the following must be chosen for the worker:
(a) Return to the same position.
(b) Return to a modified position.
(c) Return to a related occupation suited to the claimant's
education and marketable skills.
(d) On-the-job training.
(e) Short-term retraining program (less than twenty-six
(f) Long-term retraining program (more than twenty-six weeks
but not more than one year).
As you read the law, a
few very important points and questions about Vocational
Rehabilitation become obvious:
The primary goal of
the system is to send injured people back to work as
fast as possible.
You are very unlikely
to obtain any educational or training assistance to help
you qualify for a new job or a job in a new field.
- The law states that
return to work options "must be chosen for the worker."
Who decides what type of work you're able to do? Who
decides what type of work you're interested in doing?
Who decides if you will need to change careers, obtain
accommodations for a disability or work even though
you're in pain? Who will be making these decisions "for
the worker?" Exactly what type of "rehabilitation" are
you going to receive?
More than a decade ago, the Louisiana
Supreme Court clearly laid out the responsibilities of the
employer and insurance company for "Vocational
Rehabilitation" in Louisiana Workers Compensation claims:
[A]n employer can discharge its burden
by establishing the existence of a job within claimant's
physical capabilities and within claimant's or the
employer's community or reasonable geographic region, the
amount of wages that an employee with claimant's experience
and training can expect to earn in that job, and an actual
position available for that particular job at the time that
the claimant received notification of the job's existence.
All of this can be proven without the cooperation or
participation of the employee.
Actual job placement is not required.
Banks v. Industrial Roofing, 96-C-2840.
The assistance of a Vocational Rehabilitation Expert can
be an excellent asset in helping a person with a disability
find a job. But in a Louisiana Workers Compensation claim,
the Vocational Rehabilitation Expert's primary role is
to provide testimony as an expert witness for the insurance
company in an attempt to convince the Louisiana Office of
Workers Compensation Court that the injured employee can
return to work. The Louisiana Workers Compensation insurance company
selects, hires, manages and pays the Vocational Expert
to perform the tasks described by the Louisiana Supreme Court
in the quote above.
If you are contacted by a Vocational Rehabilitation
Expert, this usually means that the Louisiana Workers Compensation insurance company is
preparing to reduce or stop your benefits. The Vocational
Rehabilitation Expert will attempt to minimize the amount of
benefits that you receive by assisting the Workers
Compensation insurance company
in identifying jobs that they will allege are available
within your physical restrictions and general geographic
area. This may happen even through your treating physician
says you are still unable to go back to work.
Your contact with a Vocational Rehabilitation Expert can
be one of the most important parts of your Workers'
Compensation claim. Handled poorly, it may result in:
the poisoning of your relationships with your doctors.
the termination or drastic reduction of your
- the termination of your pre-injury
job and no new job offers.
- loss of the opportunity to reach a
fair settlement of your claim.
On the other hand, handled correctly, your contact with a
Vocational Rehabilitation Expert may result in:
In practice, in the vast majority
of Louisiana Workers Compensation claims, "Vocational
Rehabilitation" simply means that the Vocational Expert hired by
the Louisiana Workers Compensation insurance company will prepare and provide you
with "Labor Market Survey."
- continuation of your disability
benefits until your claim is settled or you return to
- genuine assistance with finding a
satisfactory new job even though you may have a
- a fair and prompt settlement of
The first stop on the path to a completed Labor Market
Survey is for your treating doctor, or the insurance company doctor, to send you
Functional Capacity Evaluation.
Next: Functional Capacity Evaluations