Can the Insurance Adjuster Make Me Look for a Different Job When I Am Not Yet Healed?
If your own employer doesn’t have work available to match light-duty restrictions, the adjuster can legally demand that you contact other employers each week for possible work. The insurance adjuster is allowed to do this under Department of Labor Rule 12.1300. The adjuster will first give you written notice that you have a partial medical release to return to some form of work. This notice will require that you conduct a good-faith search for suitable work. “Suitable work” means a job for which you have the necessary physical capacities, knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Each week, you must fill out a job search form that shows you have contacted a reasonable number of companies for work. You send it to the adjuster. Some insurance adjusters will insist that you drive to visit prospective employers. But the law only requires a good-faith search; it says nothing about a requirement to make job search contacts in person as opposed to by phone or on the internet.
At the counter of a Vermont retail employer, I observed two bins of job applications. A sign above one read, “Application if you want a job.” A sign above the other read, “Application if someone is making you apply.” Rarely is any company interested in hiring someone who had been injured at another job and is “still on workers’ comp.”
An adjuster’s demand that you look for work while still treating and still healing from your injury gives you a very small chance of being hired. At the same time, there are two reasons to take this requirement seriously. First, finding a job under the circumstances is a possibility. Second, failure to send the adjuster your job search forms as proof of a good-faith search for suitable work can result in the adjuster filing a notice to terminate your weekly wage benefits.
A job search form should be sent to the adjuster each week clearly showing which employers you contacted, the dates, the names of the people with whom you spoke, the position sought, the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the employers, and the results of the contacts. Some adjusters will call the companies to verify that you did contact them.