Important new court decision regarding job searches

Court of Appeals vacates Appellate Commission decision denying wage loss benefits for injured worker who looked for too many jobs.

Workers compensation has gone through many changes in the last several years. All of them have made it much more difficult to collect benefits. One of the worst examples is the Supreme Court opinion in Stokes v Chrysler.

The Supreme Court was attempting to clarify the burden of proof but ended up making it much harder to prove disability. An injured worker must now somehow define the “universe of jobs” that he or she is qualified and trained to perform. The injured worker must then show that he or she cannot earn maximum wages even in work never performed before.

This has created more litigation and expense for both sides as vocational experts must be hired in almost every case. Injured workers must also attempt to find other employment regardless of their individual circumstances. This usually comes as a great shock for individuals who have already been approved for Social Security Disability or other benefits.

Looking for work

One way to meet this heavy burden is by presenting evidence of a job search. This serves as proof that no jobs exist within qualifications and training that would pay maximum wages. If a person can show that no employer will hire them, this is a compelling argument for the payment of wage loss benefits.

Unfortunately, the Appellate Commission recently denied wage loss benefits for a man who looked for too many jobs. The Appellate Commission felt that his job search was overly broad and not focused. He was essentially punished for being too conscientious in trying to find post injury work.

The Court of Appeals vacated the Appellate Commission decision. Discounting a job search because a person considered too broad a spectrum of jobs is contrary to the logic and reasoning of past decisions.

Common sense prevails! You can read the full Holmes decision here.

What this could mean for you

We encourage all of our clients to perform an honest job search. This can be used at trial to support a claim for wage loss benefits. It can also be used to challenge unfair testimony from vocational experts hired by the insurance company or employer.

We tell our clients to post their resumes online at Michigan Works and to keep a log of job search activities.  Write down the date, employer, address and telephone number, contact person, and reason not hired. Keep copies of all job leads, employment applications, e-mails, and rejection letters.

We advise our clients to think outside the box and consider jobs never performed before. Consider hobbies and work skills acquired over a lifetime.

How to get help

Insurance companies and big corporations have fought to take away your legal rights. An experienced work injury lawyer can help you win your case and ensure that you receive fair benefits.

Recent changes in the workers compensation law also allow an insurance company to reduce wage loss benefits just because they think you can find a job. Don’t wait until it is too late to get help.

Call (855) 221-2667 to speak with one of our work injury lawyers in Michigan. The call is toll free and you pay nothing unless you are successful with your case.

Alex Berman is the founder of Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers. He’s been representing injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Alex has helped countless people obtain workers compensation benefits and never charges a fee to evaluate a case.

Related information:

New Warning: Accident Fund Insurance Company of America

Injured On The Job: A Guide to Michigan Workers Compensation Law Injured On
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