The Fear of an Injured Worker
Yesterday, I spoke to an individual who had broken his arm at work. It had happened years ago and he had never filed a workers comp claim. Through a strange set of facts, it’s possible he never notified his employer of the injury.
I asked him why he hadn’t filed the claim. He said it was because he didn’t want to lose his job. He was afraid. He had the same fear so many injured workers do – what’s going to happen to me if I file a claim?
It is a violation of public policy for you to get fired solely for filing a workers’ compensation claim. It is within your rights if you are hurt at work. They cannot fire you just for filing a claim. However, barring FMLA or other regulations, the employer doesn’t have to keep your job open. If you can’t go to work, you don’t necessarily have to stay employed.
If you are let go following the filing of a workers’ comp claim, assuming the injury is legit and accepted, you will get paid for time you miss from work. You get 66 2/3% of your average weekly wage, tax free assuming you are not able to work at all. So even if you are let go, you will still be getting paid. Most injured workers do not know this. And again, if filing a comp claim was the only reason you were let go, that is actionable. We once secured a half a million dollar judgement on behalf of someone fired for filing a workers’ comp claim.
Back to the individual I talked to yesterday … he only worked for three more months after his injury. Furthermore, as a direct result of his injury, he had further complications requiring surgery nearly two years later. Ultimately, as a result of his paralyzing fear of being fired, he gave up years worth of temporary total disability payments, and untold compensation for his lasting injuries. In all, his fear cost him literally hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I understand the prospect of losing a job because of injury is frightening. It’s not something I’ve ever been through personally, but it’s something I listen to nearly every day. But you cannot let the fear of filing a claim outweigh protecting yourself and your rights. It’s a horrible feeling to not be able to help someone who has been screwed over by the system or bullied by an employee. But if you wait too long, that may be you too. Don’t wait. Seek help. Warnken, LLC is here to help injured workers.