Vocational rehabilitation (“VR”) is provided to injured workers
when their industrial work restrictions become permanent, and the employer
cannot accommodate those permanent restrictions.
See NRS 616C.555; NRS 616C.590. Not all injured workers are entitled to VR.
For example, if a performer in one of the Las Vegas Strip shows injures
their foot, and the injury is severe enough that the performer requires
surgery, there may be permanent damage. While the performer is off work
and healing because of temporary restrictions given by the doctor, there
will be a time when the doctor treating the performer opines that the
temporary restrictions he/she continues to place on the performer may
be permanent. The doctor then will recommend a functional capacity evaluation
(“FCE”) to determine whether the restrictions are permanent.
If the FCE determines the restrictions are permanent, the performer will
likely need VR because they will not be able to dance in the show any longer.
Pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.530, an insurer shall adhere
to the following priorities in returning an injured employee to work:
Based on the example of the performer, unless the show the performer is
prepared to offer a permanent light duty job offer (which are nearly non-existent
in show business), the employer of the show will be obligated to provide VR.
See NRS 616C.555; NRS 616C.590.
What happens next is the performer will be assigned a VR counselor in order
to explore schools and training, depending upon what the performer wants
to do. This can be an unsettling time for a performer. Many of the performers
on the Las Vegas Strip have been dancing and performing for most of their
lives. Furthermore, it is generally their passion. This makes for a difficult
time for the performer in making some difficult decisions about what line
of work they would like to do next.
Although this can be a difficult time, it is also an important time for
the injured worker. The injured worker has a sixty (60) day period to
explore and select the training they wish to pursue. NAC 616C.558. I always
encourage the injured worker to maximize this time by being as active
as possible. This is their new career.
Lastly, depending upon the circumstances of the injury and the specific
injured worker, injured workers may elect to receive a lump sum buy-out
in lieu of the VR training. However, this is not a right or entitlement,
and the Insurer/Employer may reject a buy-out offer, which cannot be appealed.
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.