You thought it would never happen to you–you slipped and fell at work and now your knee is swollen and gives out if you spend more than two hours on your feet. You have no idea how you are going to keep working with your injury and, not surprisingly, the doctor has told you that unless you stay off your feet, the healing process will be lengthy. Now you are faced with filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, but you are concerned that you will not have a job to come back to once you are healed.
The Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act (AWCA), was designed to protect workers from this very situation – being fired simply for filing a claim for work related injuries. It provides coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, compensation for permanent disability, death benefits, and vocational retraining for people injured as a result of an injury at work. With a few exceptions, employees are entitled to these benefits when an injury is sustained at work.
An employer is required to provide its injured employees with medical coverage for their injuries, a modified work schedule that meets with the treating physicians recommendations, or if no modified work is possible, then temporary total disability payments until they are able to return to a full work schedule.
Termination for sustaining a work-related injury, or for the sole reason that the employee is not present at work, is a violation of the law and the protections of the AWCA. An employer is not allowed to terminate an employee who has been injured in order to avoid payment of workers’ compensation benefits or to prevent an employee from filing a claim under the AWCA, retaining a lawyer to assist with an AWCA claim, testifying in a proceeding under the AWCA, or causing a proceeding to commence under the AWCA. An employer is not required, however, to rehire or retain an employee whose physician determines is no longer able to perform their job duties, or whose position is no longer available once their period of temporary total disability has ended.
If you or someone you know has suffered a work related injury, the experienced attorneys at Armstrong and Vaught, P.L.C. can help. To arrange a free consultation, call us at (918) 582-2500 or toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online.