Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers Comp Case?
In some states, employers can fire an employee for filing a workers' compensation claim. However, Illinois is one of only six states that protect employees from being fired or disciplined for seeking medical treatment after an injury on the job.
If you're concerned about being wrongfully fired after filing a workers comp claim, contact the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, to schedule your consultation.
Our experienced Chicago workers' compensation lawyers will review your situation and help you determine the best course of action moving forward. There's absolutely no obligation on your part. Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 now!
In this claim or any other personal injury case, all confidential or sensitive information that you disclose is kept private through an attorney-client relationship.
How Illinois Workers Are Protected From Improper Firing
Under the Illinois Worker's Rights Act, workers have the right to know why they are being fired. Additionally, you have a right not to be discharged from your employment "except for a good cause." It means that your employer must have a valid, legal reason to fire you.
If you are fired and believe that you were wrongfully discharged, you may have a claim for wrongful discharge. To prove wrongful discharge, you must show that your employer did not have good cause to fire you and that the firing was in violation of public policy.
The Illinois Worker's Rights Act prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor or oppose any unlawful practices.
The termination must have occurred within 90 days of the complaint to violate the Act. Additionally, the employer may not have had "probable cause" to believe that the employee had engaged in any activity violating the Act.
You may have difficulty proving that your employer did not have good cause to fire you to claim wrongful discharge.
Some Examples of Valid Reasons for Firing an Employee Include But are Not Limited to:
- Violating company policy
- Poor job performance
If you are an Illinois worker and have been wrongfully terminated or believe that you lost your employment for an unlawful reason, it is important to act quickly.
What Can an Employer Legally Request of You After an Accident at Work?
After an accident at work, your employer may request certain information from you, including:
- Your name and contact information
- Your medical information
- A description of the accident
- If possible, names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident
Your employer does not have the right to request your personal information without legitimate business interest.
Workers' Compensation Claim
We often get questions from injured workers about their rights and benefits. The following information should help you understand your situation and what to expect after you have been injured.
Workers' compensation is a system of insurance that provides benefits to most employees who are injured or become ill due to their employment. Workers' compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that you do not have to prove that your employer was negligent to receive benefits.
The Workers' compensation system is set up to provide benefits to employees promptly, and most claims are processed very quickly.
There Are a Few Things That You Can Do to Help Ensure That Your Claim Is Processed Quickly:
Report Your Injury as Soon as Possible
You should report your injury to your supervisor as soon as possible. Many employers have a procedure for reporting injuries, and you may be required to fill out a form.
Gather Evidence of Your Injury
If possible, you should take photographs of the site of your injury and collect any evidence, such as torn or stained clothing.
Do not throw away your clothes if you have been in a wreck or have any other type of injury. It is very helpful to have evidence that your injury occurred while working.
Keep a Record of Your Medical Treatment
You should keep copies of all your medical bills and records, including doctor visits, lab reports, prescriptions, and X-rays. If possible, get copies of bills before paying them to ensure they are correct.
Send Medical Bills
Ensure your doctor sends all medical bills to the Workers' compensation insurance company and follow up to ensure the bills were received.
You should also follow up to ensure that you have not been overcharged for your treatment or missed any bills. If there are any problems with your medical bills, you can contact the insurance provider for help.
Keep a Copy of Your Workers' Compensation Claim Form
You will receive a workers' compensation claim form after you have reported your injury and should keep a copy of the form for your records.
This form is very important, as it will be used to determine the number of benefits you are entitled to receive.
Cooperate With the Insurance Company
Some workers are hesitant to provide medical records or bills, but the insurance provider has a legal right to this information. Therefore, you should not refuse to provide your medical records or bills, even if requested more than once.
Understand the Claims Process
If you have a question about the claims process, ask your supervisor or the workers' compensation insurance company.
The goal of the workers' compensation system is to provide benefits to injured employees as quickly as possible.
Employers can't fire, demote, reassign, or take any action against an employee because the person made a claim according to the law. The employers also can't take any action against the employee because they:
- Cooperated with an investigation
- Testified in a proceeding
- Assisted in any way with an investigation or proceeding
How to File a Workers' Comp Claim in Illinois
If you are injured at work, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure that you receive all entitled workers' compensation benefits.
Working with a worker’s comp lawyer in your state can be beneficial because they will have much more knowledge on how the process works and what you can expect.
- The first step is filing a workers' compensation claim about the accident to your boss, human resources department, or supervisor. Your employer has the right to deny your claim if they do not receive notice of the injury within 30 days after it occurred.
- If you are hospitalized, you must report the injury to your employer within 72 hours. You should also provide your employer with a copy of the hospital bill and any other documentation related to the injury.
- After you have reported the injury, the next step is to seek medical treatment. You should seek treatment from a doctor familiar with workers' compensation claims and who will provide you with the necessary documentation to support your claim.
- You should also keep a journal of your injuries. You can use it to make a note of the types of treatment you receive and its results, any pre-existing conditions that may have been aggravated during the accident, and any lost time from work.
If you cannot work because of your injuries, you should notify your employer and receive workers' comp benefits.
Filing a workers' comp claim can be complex, so it is best to seek legal advice from a law office familiar with workers' compensation law. Please contact our law office to file a workers' comp claim or more information.
Benefits of a Workers' Compensation Claim
Most employees would think that workers' compensation is only for the employees. However, while it may be originally created to protect them, it can also benefit their families.
Before Congress established the Social Security Administration, injured employees were forced to retire when they could no longer work due to injuries or die of starvation. When workers' compensation laws were initiated, the families of injured employees were also given benefits.
Workers' compensation benefits can provide injured employees and their families with several different types of assistance. The most common type of benefit is financial assistance in weekly benefits.
In many cases, workers' benefits program provides a lump-sum payment in addition to weekly benefits.
In some states, worker's compensation will also help pay for the cost of medical treatment related to the injury. It can include doctor visits, surgery, and prescriptions.
In addition, worker's compensation may also provide benefits for vocational rehabilitation. For example, it can help an injured employee get back to work by paying for training or education related to their injury.
The workers' compensation program was created to serve as a safety net if you are catastrophically injured at work.
Who Is Eligible for Benefits?
The employee must have been injured while performing their employment duties to be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
However, the injury does not have to be the employee's fault to qualify for benefits. In addition, the employee's family may be eligible for workers comp benefits if the employee dies due to their injury.
Injured workers must rely on their physical capabilities as a source of labor. Unfortunately, the number of injured workers is hard to determine because many go unreported.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates 3.6 million work-related injuries and illnesses each year. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reports that in 2005, there were 5.5 million workplace injuries and illnesses.
Injured workers can experience a wide range of physical and emotional difficulties. Physical difficulties may include walking, climbing, lifting, and bending challenges.
In addition to these physical difficulties, injured workers may also be troubled by isolation from their co-workers and fear of returning to the same work environment. Injured employees often experience a loss of control since their ability to maintain employment is dependent on others.
Early Termination Is Not an Employer's Option
Employers should not terminate employees because they have sustained injuries. Workers' Compensation laws in most states prohibit this kind of discrimination.
If you are an at-will employee, your employer may terminate your position based on prior poor work performance.
Your employer must make "reasonable" efforts to comply with your new physical demands, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Thus, making modifications for less vigorous physical requirements.
When Light Duty Is Not an Option
If light-duty work is not an option, your employer may provide you with alternative, less physically demanding employment. In addition, light-duty work can help you maintain your income and health insurance benefits while recovering from your illness or injury.
Light duty work may also help you return to your regular job more quickly. A special chair or increased recess intervals are examples of reasonable accommodation.
Your employer is not required to provide light-duty work, but it can be a great way to stay connected to your job if it is available.
If you sustain a work injury in employment, your work comp insurance would cover medical bills and lost work time. A work injury can happen in various ways, from a slip and fall on the job to a work-related car accident.
Returning to Work
It's important to report a work injury as soon as possible. It will allow your employer to begin the process of filing a work comp claim.
If you cannot work due to your work injury, you may be eligible for lost wage benefits. These benefits are meant to help you make up for the income you have lost while you cannot work.
If you have fully recovered, it is highly unlikely that you have any permanent work restrictions due to your work-related injury. However, to the extent you have any permanent work restrictions, you must discuss these limitations with your employer.
There Are a Few Things to Keep in Mind When Returning to Work With Restrictions:
- If you have any work restrictions, you should immediately bring them to your employer's attention.
- Your work restrictions must be reasonable.
- You should cooperate with your employer.
Workers' Compensation & the Tort of Negligence
Workers' compensation is a system of insurance designed to provide wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured during employment in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee's right to sue their employer for the tort of negligence.
Many different plans or schemes are common law jurisdictions, but most schemes provide medical and wage loss benefits. Disability pensions are also common, though they are not as prevalent as they once were.
You may also be eligible for additional workers' compensation if your employer cannot meet the doctor's restrictions, such as occupational training to assist you in looking for a new career. The doctor's restrictions must be included in the medical report when claiming workers' benefits.
Contracted employees are not entitled to receive workers' compensation insurance coverage as contracted workers do not meet the statutory definition.
According to the Workers' Compensation Act, contracted employees perform services for an employer under a contract. The individuals agree to perform the services for a fixed price.
Therefore, the contracted individuals are not common law employees of the contracted employer.
Contracted employees enjoy more protections, but this does not prevent them from being fired while on workers' compensation. The labor laws defend you from unjust retaliation.
Workers' Compensation Board
The Board was created in 1917 under the Workmen's Compensation Act to provide compensation for workplace accidents.
A quasi-judicial tribunal operates under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act provisions.
- Processes claims
- Adjudicates disputes
- Investigates accidents
- Decides entitlement to workers comp benefits
- Makes awards
The Board's decisions may be appealed to the Divisional Court of the Superior Court of Justice.
Open Workers' Compensation Claim
In most cases, when you are injured at work, your employer will open a workers' compensation claim. It means that your employer will report the workplace injury to their workers' comp insurance company, and the insurance provider will then begin to process the claim.
However, the injured worker may need to independently open workers' compensation claims in some cases. If your employer is self-insured (rare), they will not have a worker's comp insurance company report the claim.
You may also need to open a workers' compensation claim on your own if you were injured by a third party, which means that you were injured in a scenario that did not involve your employer. In this case, you must file a third-party liability claim against the responsible party.
The application should be accompanied by a workers' compensation claim against your employer because working for that employer is how you were injured.
If You Have to Open a Workers' Compensation Claim on Your Own, There Are a Few Things That You Will Need to Do:
- First, you will need to file a claim with the state Workers' Compensation Board. You can find the form on the Board's website.
- You will also need to file a workplace injury report form with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition, it is required to file a workers' comp claim against your employer.
- Once you have filed these forms, the next step is to notify your employer of the injury. You should do this in writing and send the letter to your employer's workers' compensation insurance company. You should also send a copy of the letter to your employer.
- The final step is to wait for the insurance companies to process your claim. This process can take a few weeks or months, so be patient. You can attempt to work with your insurance company during this time, but this is not required.
Once the claim has been processed, you will receive a settlement offer from the insurance company. This offer will include the money that the insurance provider believes is necessary to cover your medical expenses and lost wages.
You can accept this offer, reject it, or negotiate it. If you choose to negotiate the offer, you can do so with the help of a law firm that is familiar with workers' compensation law.
Injury Benefits and an At-Will Employee
Hurt workers are often at the mercy of their employers regarding job protection. If they are injured at work, they may be worried about losing their job if they cannot return to their previous position. It is especially true if they are injured at the at-will workplace.
"At-will workplaces" are those in which the employer can terminate the worker at any time, for any reason. It includes employees who are injured at work.
Federal law does not protect workers at at-will workplaces. Therefore, if you are injured at an at-will workplace, your employer is not required to keep your job open for you while you recover.
Your only protection at at-will workplaces is the workers' compensation arrangement.
Illinois is an "at-will" employment state, which means that an employer has the right to fire employees at any time, except for certain reasons (besides age, race, religion, sexual orientation, or retaliation).
Consequences of Being Placed on Leave or Terminated
If your employer places you on leave, you will likely receive a partial salary. You may also be able to collect workers' compensation benefits. If you are terminated, you will not collect any type of benefit.
Before being let go, any evidence you can get is more convincing than later-obtained proof.
Remember, if your company terminates other employees at the same time as you, it's very unlikely that they're doing so because you've filed a complaint.
Being placed on leave and termination can negatively affect your future employment prospects. For example, if your employer places you on leave, it may appear that you cannot perform your job. As a result, most employers will be uninterested in hiring you.
You may also lose your job while on the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA provides employees with a certain amount of time off work for injuries and family illness.
The retaliatory termination of a worker can be a difficult experience. You may feel that you have been wrongfully terminated and that your employer is trying to punish you for speaking up about a legal issue.
We want to understand your side of the story if you feel subjected to retaliatory termination due to your claim.
Getting Fired for Filing a Workers Comp Claim FAQs
Our personal injury law firm understands many families have unanswered questions about dealing directly with insurance companies when filing for Worker's Compensation. A Worker's Comp. attorney has answered some of those questions below.
Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for additional information.
Can My Employer Fire Me Because I Submitted a Workers' Compensation Claim?
The short answer is no. Workers' compensation is a mandatory insurance system employers must carry in most states.
As a result, most employers cannot retaliate against employees for filing claims.
What Impact Does a Workers' Compensation Claim Have on One's Future Employment Prospects?
When individuals suffer a work-related injury, they may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. The benefits can help cover medical expenses and lost wages. The type of benefits received will depend on the severity of the injury.
If you receive a severe injury, your employer may place you on leave or terminate your employment. While you may not keep your job in this situation, you may be entitled to workers' benefits until you locate a new job.
I Was Wrongfully Terminated After I Filed for Workers' Compensation. So What Am I Supposed to Do Now?
Were you wrongfully terminated after filing for workers' compensation? If so, there are a few things that you can do.
First, you should file a claim with the appropriate governing Workforce Commission. This commission will be able to handle your case and decide whether you were wrongfully terminated. If the commission finds that you were wrongfully terminated, they will likely award you back pay and damages.
Additionally, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your former employer. This lawsuit can help you recover additional damages, including pain and suffering. Therefore, if you have been wrongfully terminated, it is important to act quickly.
Filing a workers' compensation claim and filing a lawsuit require time limits that could expire if not pursued quickly. Contact an experienced employment law attorney for legal advice as you claim your deserved benefits.
Is it Possible to Sue my Employer for Wrongful Termination as a Result of Getting Injured on the Job?
The answer is "yes," but it will be a very hard process. Wrongful termination in most states means that the employer fired a worker in retaliation for doing something protected under the law, like filing a workers' compensation claim.
To prove that your termination was wrongful, you will need to employ reasonable efforts to show that the real reason you were fired was not for poor work performance. In addition, you will need to show that it was not related to your job but because you filed a workers' compensation claim.
If you successfully prove wrongful termination, the next step is to prove that your work-related injury was a major factor in your termination. However, this may be difficult to do unless you were required to miss a significant amount of time from work due to your workplace injury.
Can Your Job Be in Danger If You File a Workers' Compensation Claim for an Injury?
The short answer is no.
Workers' compensation exists to protect employees who are injured on the job against their employers' financial loss. The system was created at a time when most people either were employed by a single company for their entire working lives or were part of a guild, so their livelihood was very closely tied to their job.
Today, many of us change jobs more frequently and follow informal career paths where we have various jobs throughout our lives. And if you're self-employed, workers' compensation is your only protection if you're injured.
So, it's important to know that your job is not in danger if you file a workers' compensation claim.
In fact, if your employer tries to fire you or take some other action against you because you filed a workers' compensation claim, your employer may be guilty of committing insurance fraud and could face criminal charges.
Did You Lose Your Job Because You Filed a Workers' Compensation Claim? Here's What to Do:
Contact the U.S. Department of Labor—Office of Workers' Compensation Programs. The department can help you file a complaint and may be able to get you unemployment benefits.
So don't worry—filing a workers' compensation suit will not jeopardize your job security. And if you have any questions or concerns, be sure to talk to a workers' compensation lawyer specializing in job accidents and injuries.
Hiring a Workers' Compensation Lawyer to Resolve a Workers Comp Case
Did your employer fire you because of filing a workers' compensation claim? Our lawyers can ensure that you receive workers' compensation benefits.
Feel free to call our legal team at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for a free consultation. Let us deal directly with your employer to resolve your workers' compensation to facilitate your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
All confidential or sensitive information you share in this lawsuit or other personal injury case remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.
All personal injury matters are accepted on a contingency fee basis. This legal agreement postpones the payment of legal services until after we have completed your case through a negotiated settlement or jury decision.