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Vocational Rehabilitation for Amazon Workers

Chicago Lawyers Helping Injured Fulfillment Center Employees

After sustaining serious injuries in the workplace, you may be limited in the kinds of work you can do. You may need to find a new job or change positions within the same company, and it may be necessary to go through further education or training, which can be expensive, in order to make that transition. Vocational rehabilitation for Amazon workers may be available to those injured on the job. You should discuss your situation with an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney. Our firm may be able to help you.

Vocational Rehabilitation for Amazon Workers

Under Section 8(a) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, if you have a work-related injury, your employer Amazon is required not only to pay for reasonable and necessary medical care, but must also pay for training, instruction, and treatment needed for your vocational, mental and physical rehabilitation. This benefit includes maintenance costs and expenses arising out of that.

The requirements of vocational rehabilitation are delineated under Rule 7110.10. The rule provides that the employer needs to prepare a vocational rehabilitation plan if you’re not able to resume regular work duties that you performed when you were injured or when the period of your total inability to work is greater than 120 continuous days, whichever occurs first. In some cases, Amazon may determine you’re not an appropriate candidate for vocational rehabilitation because you’re still undergoing medical treatment. For instance if you suffered spinal cord damage as a result of a fall in the Amazon warehouse and need a surgery that Amazon has authorized, you may be asked to wait rather than receive vocational rehabilitation, too. In other cases, such as when you do a desk job with Amazon, and you suffered a complex fracture of the legs due to a work accident, Amazon may not anticipate a loss of earning capacity that would mandate vocational rehabilitation because you can still work remotely or from your desk at the office.

Entitlement to Vocational Rehabilitation for Amazon Workers

Although there’s a requirement that your employer evaluate you, there’s no clear standard for deciding when a worker is entitled to vocational rehabilitation. Under 8(a), the requirement is that an employer shall also pay for vocational rehabilitation when it’s “necessary.” There’s some wiggle room in that language, and it’ll be up to you to show that you’re entitled to rehabilitation. One court held that there was an entitlement to vocational rehabilitation where a worker was injured in such a way that earning power was reduced, but rehabilitation would increase it.

In many cases, an arbitrator with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission must make a factual determination. You’ll likely be asked to show you made a good faith effort to get a job, but were unable to find a job that met your physical limitations. You may need to put forward evidence with a vocational rehabilitation expert that shows you need vocational rehabilitation.

You’ll need to show that participating in the particular vocational rehabilitation program will lead to a successful placement at a job. You may also need to show your economic earning ability will be improved if you participate in vocational rehabilitation. And you’ll need to establish that you haven’t already completed vocational rehabilitation. Sometimes, it’s clear there are substantial restrictions and you don’t have transferable skills, so that you would need vocational rehabilitation or a permanent total disability award. For example, if you are paralyzed from the waist down due to getting run over with a vehicle while handling packages in the warehouse, it may be clear you need to be retrained in order to do a different job that doesn’t require you to walk around and lift packages. However, there are situations in which a workers’ compensation insurer denies vocational rehabilitation even though it’s clearly necessary.

Third Party Liability

Although workers’ compensation is your exclusive remedy as an Amazon worker who has been injured on the job, when work-related injuries were caused by a third party, a lawyer may be able to help you pursue damages in a lawsuit against that non-employer entity or person.

Consult a Seasoned Chicago Attorney

Amazon may fight you on the issue of whether you’re entitled to vocational rehabilitation. Because there’s no bright-line firm standard of when a worker is entitled to these benefits, the company may take positions that are difficult to fight without experience and an understanding of the nuances of this particular issue. If you’re an Amazon worker who needs vocational rehabilitation after a Chicago work accident, you should talk to the experienced lawyers of Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Our firm also represents Amazon Flex drivers in Aurora, Rockford, and Champaign, and as well as Kane, Cook, Winnebago, Adams, Sangamon, and Winnebago Counties. Call us at 312-263-6330 or 800-444-1525. Alternatively, you can complete our online form.