Nobody wants to get hurt on the job, and even though your workers’ comp benefits may compensate you fully for your injury, it can be stressful to be out of work and wondering when you will get to return and how to support yourself and your family after going back. But what happens if you lose your job before you recover? Knowing the law and your rights to workers’ comp in this situation is critical because even the slightest mistake can be detrimental in this scenario.
Most people do not realize that it is possible to lose your job while on workers’ comp, but it can happen. Depending on whether you left your job voluntarily or were fired or laid off, your options will vary.
Typically, you want to avoid leaving your job while receiving workers’ comp as you may be vulnerable to losing some if not all benefits. You may still receive medical compensation but may risk losing your temporary income replacement benefits.
Even if you are considering quitting due to extenuating circumstances, you want to consult with a legal professional prior to making that decision. In cases of permanent total disability, you can quit your job without risking your benefits; in fact, continuing to work under these circumstances may cause doubt as to whether you are truly eligible for disability.
Temporary workers’ comp is put in place to help you while you recover until you are healthy enough to return to work; however, if you have no job to return to, you can find yourself in a desperate situation. You can be legally fired while on workers’ comp as long as the reason for termination is separate from your compensation claim. If you are discharged due to your claim, that is known as retaliatory discharge and is illegal, in which case you can file a lawsuit.
The more complicated area of this is when you are terminated due to a safety violation which in turn leads to injury, this is not technically illegal but can cause scrutiny by regulatory authorities. Though it is illegal to relieve you from your job due to a workers’ comp claim, there is one loophole – the “lay off”. Some employers will disguise retaliatory discharges by downsizing only positions of employees who have filed claims; it happens more often than you’d think.
Fortunately, you can fight back on this by having someone who knows the laws and what your rights are on your legal team.