On the Job Injuries and Losing Your Job
It's bad enough to be hurt while trying to do your job, but you should never have to worry about being fired as well. Your injury might cause you to worry about whether or not your position is truly at risk when you need to collect workers' compensation benefits. Read on to learn more about your rights when you suffer from a workplace injury.
Your Employer and the Carrier Must Bear the Costs
It is the workers' comp insurance carrier—which is a private, for-profit organization—that bears the cost of your workers' comp benefits. Workers with on-the-job injuries that qualify for insurance coverage can expect to have all of their medical treatment costs paid in full. Additionally, the insurance carrier will pay for a partial salary while you are out of work.
The premiums for workers' compensation insurance are paid by your employer. Unfortunately, your employer must bear the cost of not only the workers' comp insurance premiums but the loss of a worker while you are unable to do your job. Often, employers resort to hiring a temporary worker to replace you while you recuperate.
Unless you are protected by a union or have an employment contract, your employment status is very likely at-will. That means that you can be fired at any time without your employer needing to give a reason. That might cause many hurt workers to be wary of taking advantage of the workers' comp benefits for fear of being fired.
You should not be fired for being hurt and using your employer's workers' compensation insurance benefits. There are laws in all states that prevent employers from retaliating against a worker for various reasons, and having to use workers' comp is one of them.
That being said, your employer may attempt to fire you anyway. If you are under at-will employment, your employer can fire you while you are out of work and collecting workers' comp benefits. Since your employer doesn't have to have a reason to fire you, they often do so. The law is on your side, however.
Seek Legal Help
If you have an open workers' compensation claim and are being threatened with a job loss or have been fired, speak to a workers' compensation lawyer. You have employment rights and you can take your employer to court for wrongful termination. If you are successful in proving that your employer terminated you because of your work-related injury, you are entitled to financial compensation that exceeds your losses due to the aspect of punitive damages. Speak to an attorney to learn more.