Employment During a Workers' Compensation ClaimIf you’ve been injured on the job you may find a number of unexpected worries suddenly cross your mind. Besides dealing with the recovery of your health you might find dealing with a worker’s compensation claim to be confusing and complex, but don’t let yourself become overwhelmed. If you find it a little scary to discuss the situation with your employer, insurance company, or government agency you are not alone, and an experienced worker’s compensation attorney can be an invaluable asset on your side during the navigation of this difficult process.
For a brief overview of the worker’s compensation claim process, see our White Paper for more information.
Types of Injuries and Going Back to WorkInjuries on the job can be temporary and partial, temporary and total, or permanent and total which involve a number of complicated differences. You may hear or see terms you’ve never been exposed to before but which make a difference in your claim. Only a doctor can evaluate the level of your injury, an expected time frame that you might be able to return to work, and the nature of the work you will be able to perform, so be sure to discuss this information with your physician.
Some people become worried in the course of a worker’s compensation claim if their injury or illness is preventing them from immediately returning to work. During recovery, the injured person may feel pressured to return to work, not to file worker’s compensation, or to resign from their position. Sometimes, the nature of the injury may not allow someone to return to the field in which they have previous experience. These reasons are an example of why it is so important to discuss your situation with your doctor and to know what your rights are under the workers compensation law.
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What The Law SaysFlorida state’s worker compensation laws (State Statute Chapter 440) provide workers with a great deal of protection against unfair treatment. Florida Law provides clear and indisputable protection for employees from being fired due to filing a worker’s compensation claim, in the event of “whistle-blowing” on their employer for violation of worker’s compensation law, and when searching for new employment during the course of an open claim. Specifically, the law states that employees are protected in the following ways:
1) FL §440.205: “No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any employee” for filing a valid worker’s compensation claim.
This means that an employer cannot fire an employee because of a worker’s compensation claim, or force the injured person to resign. Depending on the level and permanence of the injury, an injured employee may choose not to return to their previous position, but it cannot be because the employer will not allow them to return.
2) FL §440.105 protects workers by stating that it is unlawful for any employer to knowingly “discharge, discipline, or take any other adverse personnel action against any employee for disclosing information to the department or any law enforcement agency” regarding worker’s compensation violations.
This means that if an employee, whether or not they have been injured, feels their employer is in violation of worker’s compensation law, they are protected from retribution if they choose to report the violation to any legal agency. If an injured employee feels that their employer is approaching their worker’s compensation claim unlawfully, or feels their claim is being ignored, they are granted rights to report their employer’s behavior without the fear of losing their job.
3) And FL §440.105 also states that it is unlawful for any employer to “discharge or refuse to hire an employee or job applicant because the employee or applicant has filed a claim for benefits under this chapter.”
This means that if an injured employee with an open worker’s compensation claim has chosen to leave the job where they were injured and seek employment elsewhere, the employers that they are applying with cannot discriminate against them based on the fact that they have an open claim. Their application for the position is required by law to be given the same consideration as all other applicants.
Because the provisions of the law and various types of injuries can be so complex, it is vital that if you feel your injury is due to conditions or activities at your work-place that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Worker’s compensation exists so that workers can expect not to lose wages or their job due to an injury, and the experienced work comp attorneys at the Coye Law Firm are practiced in helping workers from all industries across Florida understand their rights and the legal protections due to them in worker’s compensation claims.