Forfeiture or Suspension of Benefits
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Ensuring Injured Workers Maintain the Benefits They Deserve
Workers’ Compensation benefits are an important source of financial support for workers who become ill or injured at work. These benefits cover medical care and lost income for employees whose injuries prevent them from working. To continue to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits, individuals must comply with the terms of their claim. If they fail to do so, they face a forfeiture or suspension of their benefits.
Causes of a Forfeiture or Suspension of Benefits
As established in Title 19 – Delaware Code 2353, there are several reasons why an injured worker’s benefits may be suspended:
Refusal of Medical Care
If the injured employee refuses any form of “reasonable” medical care, including:
They may lose the right to new, continued, or additional compensation for injuries occurring as a result. The Workers’ Compensation system is set up to help workers get the medical treatment they need to recover and return to work.
To suspend benefits, employers must demonstrate that reasonable healthcare services are being refused and that refusal is directly causing or exacerbating the worker’s injuries.
Intoxication or Other Deliberate, Reckless, or Willful Behavior
If an employee’s injuries are either the direct result of their own intoxication, willful intention to bring on the serious or fatal injury of themselves or another, or refusal to utilize required safety equipment, they are not permitted to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits or bring a lawsuit against their employer.
The law requires the employer to prove the worker’s injury occurred as a direct result of their intoxication or other deliberate, reckless, or willful behavior at work.
Refusal of Suitable Employment
If the injured employee turns down any job which they are physically capable of performing, their benefits can be suspended. For Workers’ Compensation benefits to be suspended or forfeited based on this section of Title 19, the employer is required to provide proof of an existing, reasonable job offer that accommodates the worker’s disability.
This is one scenario where the injured employee also has the burden of proof; they are required to show why their refusal of work was justified.
Injured workers cannot collect Workers’ Compensation benefits if they are incarcerated by the State of Delaware, another state or penal facility, or the federal government after an adjudication of guilt. If they were collecting benefits prior to their judgement of guilt, their benefits are suspended during the time of their incarceration and resumed upon release.
The employer must show that a finding of guilt has been established. Injured workers can still receive benefits while they are detained, pending adjudication of innocence or guilt.
The Workers’ Compensation Benefits Suspension Process
If your employer chooses to suspend your Workers’ Compensation benefits for any of the causes above, they must file a petition with the Department of Labor and notify you of their intention in writing within seven days.
If you consent to the suspension, you sign a legally-binding document called a Supplemental Agreement. If you opt to challenge the suspension, you must notify the Department of Labor within 20 days of receiving the notice of petition.
A “supersedeas” hearing will be scheduled within 21 days to decide the outcome. Your employer will provide evidence or facts to support their desire to suspend benefits; you should also be prepared to dispute the petition. A Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyer at McCann & Wall, LLC will not only evaluate whether you have a reason to challenge the suspension, but will also advocate for you if you choose to go that route.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC Fight Suspensions of Benefits for Injured Workers
If you have been notified of your employer’s intention to suspend your Workers’ Compensation benefits for any reason, it is crucial to have representation at your supersedeas hearing from a Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyer. At McCann & Wall, LLC we understand what you need to prove to protect your benefits and show that you deserve compensation for your work injury or illness.
We have been advocating for workers for more than 15 years. Let us work for you. To schedule a free initial consultation regarding your employment law matter, call 302-888-1221 or use the online form to contact us today. We serve injured workers throughout Delaware, including Wilmington, Dover, Newark, and Middletown, as well as across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.