Being injured at work can be very stressful. Your employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance that pays for your medical bills and lost wages. Many employees worry about losing their job while they’re recovering from work injury or from reporting an injury to the insurance company. What are your rights?
You have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim if you are injured on the job. Workers’ compensation benefits are no-fault, which means that your medical bills are still covered even if you were partially negligent. Most employers have a process that you must follow to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Typically, you have to report your injury within 30 days. Report your accident as soon as possible. If your employer doesn’t cooperate, you will need to contact your state Department of Labor ASAP.
Your Employment Status
Most employees are “at-will.” Employers can terminate employees for any reason or no reason. Employees can resign for any or no reason. There is no “contract” between you and an employer that makes it difficult to leave employment. Your employer doesn’t need a reason to fire you. While there are laws that govern termination, for the most part, you can be let go at any time.
Employers are not permitted to fire an employee for filing workers’ compensation claims. In fact, in most states, your employer is required to keep you on until you recover or reach a point where your condition is not expected to improve any further, even with treatment. If you can return to your job, your employer is expected to make accommodations to help you get back to work.
If you cannot return to your job due to some of the restrictions or your condition, your employer can offer to hire you in an alternative capacity. However, your employer is also allowed to terminate your employment. You may be eligible for additional workers’ compensation benefits if you can’t do your previous job because of the injury. You could receive vocational retraining or disability benefits.
What If You Are Fired?
If you file a workers’ compensation claim, your employer cannot terminate you or retaliate against you. Most employers won’t come out and tell you that you are being fired for your claim. But if you are fired after filing a claim, you may want to discuss your situation with an attorney who can help you prove your suspicion. Keep all documents related to your injury and job. Don’t wait too long to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer, because you may lose your right to file a lawsuit.