Can You Stop Working While Earning Workers' Compensation?
Hurt workers are normally eligible for several types of benefits after an on-the-job injury. For most workers, their employer's workers' compensation coverage pays for their medical expenses from any qualifying work injury. If they should be told to remain home to recuperate, the worker may also be eligible for disability pay. In some situations, workers may want or need to quit their jobs before they are cleared to return to work. Read on to find out what might happen in those cases.
Quitting an Unsafe Job
Workers are injured because of unsafe job conditions all the time. Workers experiencing injuries or occupational illnesses may be understandably reluctant to return to the same position at the same employer if the conditions remain unsafe. Unfortunately, hurt workers must move carefully if they decide to resign from a job and are still getting paid disability payments. Take these actions if you don't feel safe returning to your job:
- If your injury involved unsafe equipment, let your supervisor and other management personnel know about it.
- Contact your state board that oversees job safety and lodge a complaint.
- Keep a list of unsafe items, machinery, environmental issues, and so on that need to be rectified.
- Talk to a workers' compensation lawyer to ensure that your benefits are safe if you decide not to return to your job.
In most cases, hurt workers who resign their jobs will continue to be eligible for medical treatment, but the insurer can challenge workers who are still on disability benefits. However, quitting an unsafe job should not affect your ability to be paid a lump-sum settlement if you are hurt badly enough to stop working at all or if you are partially disabled because of your injury.
Being Fired from a Job
Some hurt workers end up losing their job through no fault of their own. One common issue is that employers may fire workers that don't return to work when the doctor orders them to do so. Unfortunately, some workers' compensation doctors are under pressure to clear workers to return to work and that could leave workers hurt while being expected to work. Make no mistake about it, if you are still too hurt to work, do not go back to work or you could make matters worse. Instead, speak to a workers' comp lawyer about your rights to appeal such decisions about work.
In addition to the above, workers are cautioned not to accept a new job that includes doing work that they said they could not perform at their last job if they are still accepting benefits. Be careful and speak to a workers' compensation attorney before you make a move.