Q Will my weight affect my workers’ compensation settlement?
It is one o’clock, and you finally get to take your break and eat your lunch. You were running late and didn’t eat breakfast this morning so now your stomach is rumbling and feels like it’s about to implode. You rush to the break room, hoping to share your lunch time with some of your fellow co-workers; however, as you enter, you see three of your friends somberly reading what appears to be a work-issued pamphlet. They look up at you with extremely irritated expressions and one of them hands you their paper.
Although your stomach is growling, you sit down and begin to read.
“Effective immediately – Work benefits will be decided based on mandatory health screenings. To secure your benefits, a suggested weight goal will be presented to you at the time of screening. Thank you for your cooperation.”
You drop the paper and look at the morose faces of your colleagues and realize that most of them, actually most of your entire office—including yourself—are a little overweight. So does that mean that even though you regularly attend LC Fitness, if you’re in a work-related accident and happen to be obese, your settlement may be affected?
Weight Dependent Settlement Terms
Since being overweight can effect recovery time, treatment, and wages, some employers and their insurance companies will put disclaimers or added terms within their workers’ compensation coverage. This means that if certain requirements aren’t met or fulfilled, your settlement may be decreased or denied. Some of these terms may include mandatory weight goals, programs, or even surgery.
- Weight goals – According to a research performed by the Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH), 67 percent of employees are required to meet weight-related wellness goals in order to get full health coverage.
- Weight loss programs – When an employee’s recovery is hindered or compromised by his weight and is verified as much by a doctor, an employer may lessen or defer compensation until he has been put on a weight loss program to help aid in his prolonged recovery.
- Gastric bypass surgery – In extreme cases, an employee’s doctor may suggest that gastric bypass surgery is the most beneficial course of action to lower his weight and therefore aid in the recovery of the initial injury. Employers and insurance companies may insist on the procedure—or at least an adequate substitute for weight loss—as part of the settlement.
- Weight factor to deny claim – In some cases insurance companies may even try to deny a settlement all together, claiming that the employee’s injury was a direct result of his weight, not a result of the work environment.
Weight loss can be an extremely difficult undertaking when you’re healthy, let alone when you’ve already been injured. Although, losing excess pounds will undoubtedly speed your recovery and improve your overall health, an experienced lawyer can help make sure that while you’re trying to lose that weight, you’re not also losing your settlement.
Contact us for more information on how we can help protect your workers’ compensation claim and ease the stress of dealing with the insurance company, so you’ll have the peace of mind to focus on your treatment, weight loss, and recovery. Call today for your free consultation.