Practice Area: Workers compensation
Outcome: Injured Worker Prevailed At DWC
Description: The issue here is whether or not the employer made a bona fide offer of employment such that the Texas workers' compensation insurance carrier could offset the benefits that would have otherwise been owed. A bona fide offer of employment is an offer of employment made by an employer who agrees to accomodate any restrictions the claimant may have. If the claimant returns to work and earns his pre-injury wages, then the carrier does not owe any benefits as long as the employer continues to make accomodation. If the injured worker declines the offer of light duty, then the insurance carrier gets to take a credit for any wages that were offered and reduce or suspend the benefits that were being paid. Rule 129.6 contains specific criteria that must be met in order for an offer of light duty to be declared a bona fide offer such that a carrier can reduce or suspend benefits. The judge found the offer in this case to be deficient. It did not contain a physical description of the job, although it did specify that the job duties would not exceed the restrictions given by the doctor. Additionally, the offer was made by the adjuster, not the employer. It was signed by the adjuster and mailed by the adjuster. There was no indication in the record that the employer itself was offering anything. Rule 129.6 allows for the employer and the carrier to request work status from the claimant's doctor. It then specifies that an "employer" may make an offer of employment, and that a "carrier" can determine whether or not that offer is bona fide and suspend benefits. In this case, one of the reasons the judge cited for finding that the offer did not meet the requirements of Rule 129.6 is because it was made by the adjuster and not the employer. Therefore, the claimant was determined to be owed benefits for the time period in question.