If you used to make $50,000 a year, you can now be forced to take a part-time, minimum-wage job 50 miles away from your home.

Up until this point, your average weekly wage was either the single most important, or one of the most important, things that an insurance company looked at in terms of finding you a new job. No more.

The new law defines suitable employment offered to the employee — employment that the employee is capable of performing in light of the pre-existing and injury-related physical and mental limitation, vocational skills, education and experience within 50 miles. Specifically eliminated is any consideration of the average weekly wage — something that has always been a factor in the past.

What does that mean for you? Basically that no matter how low-paying or menial the job is, the insurance adjuster and assistant, the vocational rehabilitation professional, can make you apply for the job. If you refuse, they can run to the Industrial Commission and ask that your benefits be suspended.

Now, more than ever, you are going to need aggressive intervention by skilled attorneys to fight for you. With the playing field tilted drastically in favor of the multi-million dollar insurance companies, it is going to take everything we have to keep your checks intact and to get you on your way to a real and productive job.

Although this portion of the law is supposed to apply to new cases, we have seen several adjusters and vocational rehab professionals arguing that it applies to old cases — and the law hasn’t even been in effect a week yet.

This article was written by Chip Permar