Can You Take a Vacation While on Workers' Compensation? - What Indiana Laws Say
While there are some exceptions, most employers in Indiana are legally required to carry workers' compensation insurance for employees who develop work-related injuries or illnesses.
Most physical and mental injuries are compensable, including traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, carpal tunnel syndrome, mesothelioma, and more. Workers' compensation usually covers paid medical care and a portion of their lost wages.
When they are off the job already, people wonder if they can spend time with their loved ones away from home. However, many still don't know if going on vacation or taking a trip can affect their workers' comp benefits.
Most of the time, employees can go on vacation while on workers' compensation. However, it depends on the specific circumstances surrounding their injuries. Also, there are many things to consider.
Going on Vacation While on Workers' Compensation
Indiana workers' compensation law does not say that employees cannot go on vacation if they are receiving benefits for a workplace injury. The state's legal system does not prohibit them from spending part of their recovery time on the beach or with relatives living in another city. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can provide insight on how long can you collect workers comp in Indiana.
In fact, there are many reasons why an injured employee would want to take a trip or a vacation while on workers' comp. Here are some of them:
To relieve stress and anxiety related to post-injury recovery
To relieve physical pain
To give their bodies a complete rest or recovery time to prevent further complications
To get additional rest time from activities that may trigger more physical pain or mental distress
To enjoy a mental and emotional break away from their responsibilities and daily duties
In this regard, here's the answer: essentially, a person's vacation time has no impact on a workers' compensation claim.
However, taking a trip may affect their workers' comp claim or benefits in some cases. As mentioned, it often depends on the circumstances or facts surrounding the case.
While there are no rules that prohibit employees from going on vacation while they have an open workers' compensation case or are receiving benefits for a work-related injury, there are several pitfalls if they miss their doctors' appointments or do not maintain their eligibility.
Can Workers Keep Their Eligibility for Workers' Comp Benefits While on Vacation?
If a person's vacation provides evidence that they are not badly hurt, or a specific trip is not suitable for an injured individual, it can affect their eligibility for workers' compensation benefits.
Injured employees who are receiving workers' compensation benefits and planning to go on vacation should keep the following things in mind:
Their Medical Care
Workers' compensation beneficiaries must keep up with all medical appointments and treatment while they get financial support.
Cash benefits are meant to support workers who have been badly hurt on the job while they recover from their injuries.
If beneficiaries miss a follow-up doctor's appointment or another type of care while on vacation, the workers' comp insurer may claim they have recovered. As a result, they must return to work, and their crash payments should end.
However, injured employees should also be aware that rescheduling doctors' appointments can also work against them. Therefore, if they plan to take a trip, beneficiaries must return in time for each one.
Their Vacation Itinerary
People who plan to go on a vacation while on workers' comp must also limit their activities to maintain their status as injured employees.
Ideally, anyone who sees their activities should think they accommodate their injuries.
If an injured worker takes a physically active vacation and their employers or insurers obtain photos or videos of their activities, their benefits may be terminated.
Travel arrangements that require hours of driving or long plane flights can also work against employees, proving that their condition or illness is not as severe as they have claimed.
Injured workers should consult with their doctors about what activities are appropriate to their medical status and follow their recommendations.
Things Injured Workers Shouldn't Do While on Vacation
There are several things that injured employees should not do if they want to keep their workers' compensation benefits while on vacation:
Miss their medical appointments
Fail to comply with needed and authorized medical treatment
Ignore doctors' recommendations while on vacation
Post photos about their vacation on social media
Do activities that may compromise their injuries or create evidence that they were not badly hurt, such as mountain climbing, riding the waves, or jet skiing
Take trips that require many hours of travel by car or plane
Go on vacation even if the workers' compensation doctor advises them against taking a short or long trip
Can an Injured Employee Receive Workers' Compensation Benefits and Paid Vacation at the Same Time?
In Indiana, employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation but are free to establish a vacation policy in their contracts if they want to offer such benefits.
Therefore, injured workers should review this policy or their contracts to see if they can collect vacation pay while on workers' comp.
However, most employees cannot receive vacation and workers' comp disability payments at the same time.
Final Thoughts: Should Injured Workers Contact a Lawyer If They Plan to Go on Vacation?
Most insurance companies work with private investigators who gather evidence of potential workers' compensation fraud. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also answer questions like, "What is impairment rating?"
These investigators do not necessarily need to follow employees to their vacation destinations to collect evidence. Many only monitor workers' social media accounts and look for photos or videos that may prove employees engaged in activities against their doctors' recommendations.
However, being on workers' compensation does not mean injured employees cannot make vacation plans.
Taking a trip to the beach or visiting another city can help injured workers feel better physically and mentally. However, they must remember that their insurance companies want to make sure they deserve the benefits.
Therefore, if insurers get any idea that an employee was not injured as they claimed, they will try to cancel their workers' comp payments.
Fortunately, employees who have been injured on the job can contact an experienced lawyer if they need help understanding Indiana's workers' compensation law because they are planning to go on vacation.
A worker's compensation lawyer can help employees keep their benefits if they have been injured in the workplace and take a trip.
If an insurance company falsely accuses an injured worker of engaging in fraudulent activities while on vacation, seasoned workers comp lawyers in Indianapolis can gather strong evidence to fight those allegations.
Call Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Today!
The legal team at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has extensive experience handling workers' compensation cases and is willing to help employees fight for their rights. They go to war for their clients. Call this law firm today and get a free consultation!