How Overtime Can Impact Your Work Injury Claim

November 4, 2021

Overtime is an essential factor when filing claims because most workers’ compensation benefits are based on the employee’s average weekly wage. The more hours an employee has worked in the past, the higher his or her average wage is likely to be.

Working overtime, therefore, can have a significant impact on the amount of money injured employees are likely to obtain from their workers’ comp claims and personal injury claims. Working with an attorney can increase the chances of these employees obtaining maximum compensation for their injuries.

How Does The Law Define “Overtime”?

The law defines overtime as time spent working beyond 40 hours in one week. The first 40 hours, therefore, do not count as overtime for those who might seek benefits under workers’ comp laws — unless the contract says otherwise. In this case, eligible employees need to review the language in the contract. Any time an employee works beyond the 40th hour in one week, he or she is working overtime.

Light Duty Work Restrictions

After an injured worker has recovered and resumed work, he or she may face new challenges in returning to his or her specific same job duties. Medical practitioners may sometimes restrict their patients from carrying out physically demanding or dangerous tasks. These restrictions can be either temporary or permanent.

Employers must adjust the job descriptions and expectations of these employees to suit their unique health needs. This requirement, however, does not allow employers to bar employees from obtaining overtime work if they can do it.

A Northern California district court set this precedent in a popular lawsuit against United Airlines. The court ruled that workers with disabilities are eligible to work overtime if they wish, provided other employees are getting overtime hours and the tasks in question are within their physical capabilities.

What Are Some Of The Consequences Of Working Overtime In Injury Claims?

Working overtime, particularly in professions that are already highly physically demanding, can slow down the recovery journey of an injured worker. It can also increase the odds of the injured worker exacerbating his or her current condition or developing a new condition. This is especially true when the worker has not had enough time to properly recuperate from his or her injury before returning to work.

In some cases, working overtime can worsen the situation. For example, a rideshare accident or medical malpractice resulting from working while fatigued can complicate a claim. Injured workers in these situations might be unable to prove that their employers were at fault for the accident if they had been working overtime or voluntarily taking extra shifts after a long-time off work.

If An Employee Puts In More Hours Than He Or She Can Handle And Injury Occurs, Will The Employee Still Receive Benefits?

As long as overtime hours do not contribute to the injury, then an injured employee may receive compensation for lost wages and medical expenses during recovery under most states’ laws. If the worker cannot prove that his or her employer was responsible for the work accident, however, he or she will still have to prove that his or her workplace was the source of the illness or injury. Proving this can be tough if the injured employee was working extra hours to make ends meet and there are no witnesses or other evidence to support the claims.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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