Vocational Rehabilitation: What are my Rights?
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. NRS 616C.595.
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.