Individuals injured at work often are entitled to Workers’ Compensation for their injuries. Recovering from a workplace injury can take months or even years. Many workers receiving Workers’ Compensation wonder if going on a vacation during this time will affect their ability to receive their benefits. Fortunately, workers may continue with their regular activities while home from work on Workers’ Compensation, although there are a few things injured workers should remember when planning a vacation during this time.
Continue to Follow Medical Restrictions
Although being away on a vacation may tempt a person to engage in restricted activities, such as water skiing, hiking, or other physically strenuous sports, workers collecting benefits should continue to follow medical restrictions while on vacation. Engaging in restricted activities could result in a loss of Workers’ Compensation benefits if an employer can use vacation activities to prove the injured worker is able to return to work and adequately perform their duties. Any activity that requires physical exertion, including standing in long lines at amusement parks or in airports, can be problematic for individuals receiving Worker’s Compensation.
Workers’ Compensation benefits are granted when injuries occur at the workplace. If a separate injury occurs on vacation, Workers’ Compensation benefits may be jeopardized if the insurance company can prove the injury taking place on vacation is the real reason the worker is unable to return to work. If vacation activities aggravate or worsen the existing injury, the individual may also lose their Workers’ Compensation benefits. Refraining from high risk activities is necessary while on vacation for workers still receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Plan Around Scheduled Doctor Appointments
Missing a scheduled doctor or rehabilitation appointment to take a vacation is never a good idea. Obtaining Workers’ Compensation benefits is often contingent upon following the medical advice of the Workers’ Compensation physician. Workers must always remain medically compliant to receive all recommended medical treatment. This is an important step in obtaining full Workers’ Compensation benefits. If possible, injured workers should arrange for a physical therapy program to do in their hotel room or vacation rental to continue with rehabilitation while on vacation.
Many Workers’ Compensation insurance companies are wary of injured employees who go on vacation following an injury. This is one of the most common red flags for Workers’ Compensation fraud. Often, insurers will hire private investigators to perform video and photo surveillance on injured workers, including those on vacation, if they suspect exaggeration of a work injury. If the surveillance results in evidence that an injured individual can perform activities that they claimed they were incapable of doing because of their injury, the worker may lose their Workers’ Compensation benefits. In some cases, they may even be charged with fraud.
Avoid Social Media
A worker’s social media accounts can provide the best surveillance for insurance companies. Resist the urge to post vacation action shots, which can be used out of context to demonstrate a worker’s ability to return to work. Photographs and videos of injured workers engaging in physically challenging activities almost certainly will come back to haunt a worker collecting Workers’ Compensation.