Vocational rehabilitation services are services offered for workers’ compensation claims that aim to get injured employees back to work as quickly and smoothly as possible. Ideally, workers can return to their job with little to no retraining necessary. However, some injuries prevent employees from returning to their previous position. In these cases, vocational rehabilitation services will help to acclimate the injured party for a new position that can be performed within their limitations—or new job altogether.
Vocational rehabilitation services are not a one-size-fits-all process—these services can vary depending on the type and severity of the injury, as well as the individual circumstances of each case. Services offered can include:
- Career Counseling/Vocational Guidance
- Evaluation of rehabilitation potential
- Physical and Mental Restoration
- Occupational Tools
- Assistive Technology Services, Assistive Technology Devices and Rehabilitation Engineering
- Vocational and Other Training Services
- Job Placement into Suitable Employment
- Maintenance to cover additional costs incurred during the period of vocational rehabilitation
- Personal Assistance Services
- Transition from School to Work
How Vocational Rehabilitation Works
The State of Louisiana offers rehabilitation services to help injured people get back to work as quickly as possible. Louisiana law 23:1226(B) states that the injured party should first consider a return to the same job. If that’s not possible, the person may be able to return to the job with accommodations.
Below are the vocational rehabilitation services’ options for getting employees to return to work—the first feasible option must be chosen for the injured party.
- Returning to the previously held position.
- Returning to a modified position—the previously held position with some accommodations.
- Returning to a related occupation—an occupation in the same field that utilizes the injured party’s education and marketable skills.
- On the job training.
- A short-term retraining program that lasts less than twenty-six weeks.
- A long-term retraining program that lasts more than twenty-six weeks, but less than a year.
Looking at Your Abilities
When an employee is injured, the question their employer has to answer is whether there’s a job available that they’re capable of performing. The job must be in their geographic region, as they cannot be asked to relocated due to a workplace injury. However, it’s important to note that alternative work found by an employer is not required to be the most exciting, interesting opportunity—as long as the job gets the injured party to return to work.
Working with the Vocational Rehabilitation Expert
In Louisiana, the primary role of the Vocational Rehabilitation Expert is to convince the Louisiana Office of Workers’ Compensation Court that the injured party is able to return to work by providing expert testimony. It’s important to always be honest and contrite with the vocational rehabilitation expert. You want to be optimistic, but don’t make promises when those promises aren’t realistic.
Working with the Vocational Rehabilitation Expert is one of the most important aspects of a workers’ compensation claim. Properly handling contact with this expert may result in a much more fair and prompt settlement, whereas poor handling may result in an unfair settlement—or even job termination.
Vocational rehabilitation services are included in workers’ compensation claims in order to help injured workers return to gainful employment as soon as possible. However, expert legal advice can greatly increase your chances of a fair, reasonable settlement and return to work. Don’t try to navigate this situation alone, The Law Office of Stephen C. Gaubert is here to offer expert legal advice and assistance to ensure you get the compensation that’ll help you back on your feet.