Cutler Law Firm, P.C.

Important Court of Appeals Decision About Written Offers of Light Duty Work

A recent Iowa Court of Appeals decision has concluded that employers are not required to offer light duty in writing under Iowa Code § 85.33(3)(b) when the Claimant has already returned to work.

In ADM v. Williams, No. 22-2075, 2023 Iowa App. LEXIS 979 (Iowa Ct. App. Dec. 20, 2023), the Claimant returned to work under restrictions. The Employer never offered Claimant light duty work in writing, but instead told him to find work to do within his restrictions. He sought healing period benefits for the 52 days of work he missed due to increased pain from his injury. He argued that because there was no written offer of light duty work, the offer of work was invalid.  

The Appeals Court held that Claimant’s return to work ended his entitlement to healing period benefits under § 85.34(1), stating Claimant’s “undisputed return to work made any failure to put the offer of work in writing inconsequential.” The Court concluded that the evidence showed Claimant was offered suitable work, he accepted the work, and he returned to work.  Therefore, Claimant lost his entitlement to healing period benefits when he accepted the verbal offer and returned to work.

It is unknown whether this decision will be appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court. If it is not, then this decision means that if an employee has already returned to work and has accepted the verbal light duty offer by working, then the employer does not necessarily need to provide a “written” offer of work. That being said, a best practice would be to ALWAYS offer light duty work in writing, even if it may not technically be required under the ADM v. Williams decision.

As always, please feel free to contact any of our attorneys for questions regarding this or any other workers’ compensation issues.

© 2024 Cutler Law Firm, P.C. All rights reserved.