Any injured worker whose restrictions become permanent from the work injury
they suffered will then be eligible for vocational rehabilitation (hereinafter
See NRS 616C.590. If the employer is not in the position to offer a permanent
light duty offer, the injured worker is entitled to VR. The injured worker
will be assigned a VR counselor to begin looking at options of work that
interest them. This generally means that the injured worker will be going
back to some vocational training which includes schooling and possibly
job placement assistance.
How much schooling and for how long is generally dependent on what percentage
of permanent partial disability (hereinafter “PPD”) rating
the injured worker obtained in their own case. NRS 616C.555. The law states
if the injured worker suffers a permanent disability with a permanent
physical impairment of one percent (1%) or more, but less than 6 percent
(6%), the injured worker is entitled to nine (9) months of schooling.
Id. If the injured worker has incurred a permanent physical impairment of
6 percent (6%) or more, but less than 11 percent (11%), the injured worker
is entitled to one (1) year.
Id. Lastly, if the injured worker has incurred a permanent physical impairment
of 11 percent (11%) or more, the injured worker is entitled to eighteen
Although this seems very straightforward, complications may arise. These
complications typically arise with the VR counselor themselves. Pursuant
to Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.542, VR counselors are prohibited from
1) Offering payment of compensation in a lump sum in lieu of the provision
of vocational rehabilitation services to an injured employee: (a) Without
providing written notice of the offer to the Attorney for the injured
employee; or (b) If the injured employee is not represented by an
Attorney, without providing a written notice to the employee which satisfies
the requirements of the notice required by paragraph (c) of subsection
3 of NRS 616C.595; 2) Offer any monetary payment to an injured employee
in an amount that is less than the amount authorized by the insurer; 3)
Make any false statement or implication that an injured employee must
make a decision regarding vocational rehabilitation within a certain period
of time; 4) Advise an insured or claimant not to seek legal counsel; or
5) Provide legal advice to a claimant.
One of the most common complaints I receive from injured workers is that
the VR counselor is attempting to force them into schooling that the injured
worker is not interested in. This is fairly consistent among a select
group of VR counselors and certainly does not mean that all of the VR
counselors do this. For example, if the injured worker begins to explore
the VR process and the VR counselor does not have the actual PPD rating,
some VR counselors insist on the injured worker only looking at nine (9)
month program, the minimum allowed by law. This is despite the fact that
the Attorney for the injured worker may have a fairly accurate indication
what PPD rating the injured worker is going to receive. Often times, some
VR counselors will not attempt to obtain the information, or even worse
not ask the Attorney for more information, and simply force the injured
worker to move forward in the process only looking at the minimum allowance
by law because they do not have the PPD rating yet. This then results
in the injured worker feeling forced or pushed in to programs the injured
worker is not interested in, especially when the injured worker may be
aware that their forthcoming PPD rating is qualifies them for more.
On the other hand, there are good VR counselors who are focused solely
on priorities of the injured worker, which is what the law requires.
See NRS 616C.530. Many of the VR counselors have impressive backgrounds and
are able to work with the injured worker to place them into fields of
work not only that they qualify for, but enjoy. The best relationship
between the injured worker and the VR counselor must be built on trust.
If the injured worker (and Attorney if applicable) trusts the VR counselor,
then the law is operating precisely how it is supposed to.
This is a very important step in the injured worker’s case. Injured
workers should seek an experienced Attorney regarding eligibility of VR
and all other applicable benefits. The experienced Attorney will not only
be able to give guidance on this process, but also all other laws associated
with work injuries.