Jan 19, 2021

Can I Lose My Job While on Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation offers injured employees medical treatment and potential wage replacement benefits in the event of a work-related injury or accident that prevents them from working. For many individuals on workers’ comp, these benefits serve as a vital lifeline until they recover and can return to work in a “light duty” or “sedentary” capacity. But many injured workers are worried about this question: “If I sue workers’ comp, will I lose my job?” 

Man With A Helmet Holding His Shoulder In Pain

Getting Terminated When on Workers’ Compensation in Atlanta

Under Georgia workers compensation laws, you can be terminated while receiving workers compensation benefits or while you have a pending workers’ compensation legal action. Georgia follows an “at-will” employment doctrine with certain restrictions, which allows employers to terminate employees at any time. This employment principle also grants employees the freedom to resign at their discretion.

At-will employment means that being on workers’ compensation does not provide any special job security. But it is noteworthy that an employer cannot fire you as a retaliatory measure just because you claimed workers’ compensation. You should schedule a free legal consultation with a lawyer if your employer fires you for moving forward with a claim. 

Your attorney will help you claim compensation for medical expenses, future medical bills, lost income, and temporary or permanent disability and may additionally file a personal injury lawsuit for damages due to employer retaliation and wrongful termination.

Reasons Employers Use to Terminate Injured Workers

Employers can always claim that they need to terminate an injured worker due to business reasons such as financial constraints, changes in company structure, or elimination of certain job positions.

  • Policy Violations: Termination can occur if a worker violates company policies unrelated to their workplace injuries.
  • Failure to Return: If an injured worker cannot return even with accommodations, they can be fired.
  • Reorganization: Job cuts due to reorganization are possible, but discrimination is not allowed.

Filing for workers compensation is an employee’s right. Termination based on workplace injury and disability is illegal. Unfortunately, many employees that receive workers’ compensation benefits are made to experience financial hardships. Your best option may be to consult with an experienced lawyer and claim damages.  

Is Termination Considered Retaliation in Georgia?

It is essential to distinguish that you can be terminated while on workers’ compensation, but you cannot be terminated solely because you are on benefits. Utilizing workers’ compensation benefits is a right of eligible employees, and you cannot face repercussions for exercising that right in Atlanta.

If your employer intends to terminate you while you are on workers’ compensation, they must ensure there is a valid legal reason for doing so. Terminating an employee on workers’ comp without a clear justification may raise suspicions that could lead to a wrongful termination lawsuit. Additionally, your employer should make reasonable efforts to find alternative work for you while you are recovering before firing you.

Photo of an Injured Person Receiving Worker's Compensation

Do Workers’ Comp Benefits Cease Upon Termination?

Once you have been granted workers’ compensation, the benefits remain in effect until their originally planned expiration date. Losing your job does not terminate your workers’ compensation benefits, which include essential medical treatment coverage and wage replacement benefits, if applicable. The only circumstance that can prematurely end your workers’ compensation benefits is fraud, such as providing false information.

Vocational training is another aspect of workers’ comp benefits that you should not lose. If your work related injuries are severe enough to prevent you from returning to your previous occupation in any capacity, workers’ comp benefits may provide opportunities for vocational retraining. This can include courses to begin a new career unaffected by your injuries or disabilities.

Can I Quit a Job Due to Injury?

You can resign from your job due to an injury in Atlanta, even if it is related to a workplace accident or condition. However, it is generally not advisable to do so until you have spoken with an attorney as it may impact your current or future entitlement to workers’ compensation income benefits.  

If your injury is severe and you are unable to continue working in your current job, you have the option to resign. Your decision to resign should be based on your health and safety considerations. You have the right to obtain immediate medical treatment for your injury. Workers’ compensation typically covers the cost of necessary medical care related to the work injury.

Will Going Back to Work Affect My Claim?

Your workers’ compensation claim can be affected in the following ways if you decide to resume work:

  • Wage Loss Benefits: If you return to work with reduced earnings due to your injury, you may still be eligible for wage loss benefits to compensate for the income difference.
  • Medical Treatment: Returning to work does not typically affect your right to receive ongoing medical treatment for your work-related injury.
  • Temporary Partial Disability Benefits: If you earn less than the pre-injury wage, you may qualify for Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits.
  • Evidence of Recovery: Returning to work can be seen as a sign of improvement, which may lead to adjustments in your benefits based on your condition.

You should always consult with a workers compensation attorney familiar with Georgia’s laws for personalized guidance on how your return to work may affect your claim.

Can I Quit My Job While on Workers Comp in Atlanta?

Your right to receive medical treatment related to the work-related injury remains intact regardless of your employment status. If your injury prevents you from working temporarily, workers’ compensation in Georgia may provide benefits that replace a portion of your lost wages.

Resigning does not always impact your eligibility for these benefits.It is advisable to communicate with an attorney before making a decision to resign while you have any pending worker’s compensation claim. 

Does My Employer Have to Hold My Job While I am on Workers Comp in Georgia?

Georgia follows the “at-will” employment doctrine, which means that either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any lawful reason, unless there is a specific employment contract or agreement stating otherwise.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may provide job protection for eligible employees who need to take time off for a serious health condition, including a work-related injury. Employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Georgia Fair Employment Practices Act. If you have a disability due to a work-related injury, you may be entitled to reasonable accommodations to perform your job.

Types of Evidence an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Obtain to Prove Illegal Termination

In case of an alleged unlawful termination, a workers compensation Atlanta lawyer may gather various types of evidence to build a strong case. These include:

  • Documentation: Copies of all documents related to your workers’ compensation claim, including the initial claim form, medical records, and correspondence with the insurer.
  • Termination Notice: Your attorney can obtain termination notices or letters from your employer. Written or electronic communications can help build stronger workers compensation claims.
  • Employment Records: Your workers compensation lawyer will obtain employment contracts or agreements, if applicable. They may also obtain personnel files and performance evaluations that may help establish your work history and performance.
  • Evidence of Retaliation: Your lawyer will gather evidence that suggests a connection between your workers’ compensation claim and your termination, such as timing (e.g., termination shortly after the injury occurred and you filed a claim), statements made by your employer, or patterns of similar treatment.

Your attorney can also help you file a personal injury claim to sue at-fault third parties and receive coverage on your behalf. This can be in addition to your workers comp case in case your employer fired you unlawfully.

Judges' Gavel Resting on Desk

Dedicated Legal Assistance for Injured Workers in Georgia

The experienced workers compensation lawyers at Hansford McDaniel – Workers’ Compensation Attorneys can answer any concerns about potential termination and take the necessary legal actions to help you obtain a favorable outcome. Our team of workers’ compensation lawyers represent injured workers from various industries throughout Atlanta, including construction, retail, food service, office work, and manufacturing, among others. Contact us to book your free consultation at 770-922-3660 or reach us online today.