You may not be sure what to expect when you file a workers' comp case with your employer after getting injured on the job. You may be nervous because the workers' comp system seems very adversarial against the injured worker (it is). You may not be sure what filing would mean for your relationship with your employer. Does that mean that your boss is upset at you for filing? Did this mean that you may be putting your job in jeopardy?
We counsel people on this all the time: your employer can't legally fire you because you are hurt on the job or on workers' comp. The relationship can seem confusing because you have to separate the employer from the workers' comp insurance company - and that's what we do.
We only deal with the insurance company, so we don't affect your relationship with your employer.
And while your boss and company may very well may be on your side (they may be totally in your corner) the decision isn't always up to them - they usually have a Fortune 500 insurance company providing the workers' comp benefits and making a lot of the decisions - the workers' comp insurance company calls the shots.
Do you think the workers' comp insurance company has your best interest in mind?
It is actually their duty (to their corporate shareholders) to undermine your case and limit your benefits - the less they pay you the more money they make.
Here is what you can be sure of:
1). Legally, your job is safe if you are on workers' comp: that doesn't mean that illegal firings don't happen, but in our experience they are rare. But, if you are let go due to a workers' comp claim you have grounds for an unlawful termination lawsuit.
Keep in mind, however, that if you are employed "at will" you can still be terminated for any legal reason - and let's face it, it's pretty easy for companies to come up with excuses on this these days. As long as you can't work in your regular job because of your injury, you should still get workers' comp benefits.
2). If you've been released to light duty and your employer offers you light duty within your restrictions, you have to try and take it. If you take it and you still can't do the work because of your injury, you should go back to the doctor and get certified that you cannot regular duty, or light duty. You may need to ask your doctor to write certain specifications into your disability note such as "cannot lift more than ten pounds" or "cannot sit for more than two hours at a time."
Remember, that your doctor may or may not have experience with workers' comp so you need to be your own advocate and ask directly for what you need.
3). You will need to do everything you can to get better before returning to work. This means sticking to your medical treatment and not trying to go back to work before you are ready (or your injury could worsen). This may mean vocational training if there is no light duty available for you. This may mean looking for your own work and reporting back on your search.
Some people have a very hard time adjusting to the idea that they may not be able to go back to work in the same capacity or at all. This is a very difficult transition that needs to be made sometimes, depending on the extent of your injury. But we can help you through it; we will help you understand the nature of your medical treatment plan, your vocational future, and your settlement options. A lot of this information and more can be found in the exclusive book written by nationally certified trial lawyer Frank Kearney about workers' compensation: written only for injured workers.
If you have been seriously hurt at work you really cannot afford to miss this book so order your free copy today. No cost or obligation.
And if you have further questions call us today at 202-393-3320 to speak with a live person today.