If you have been injured at work and end up having work restrictions, you may be worried about your job or are scared that you will get fired due to these injuries. However, do not let the fear of losing your job interfere with getting the benefits you need. According to Minnesota law, injured employees have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits without interference or retaliation from their employers.
If an employer terminates you for filing a workers’ compensation claim or tries to convince you that you do not need to apply for these benefits, you may be able to pursue legal action against them. Better yet, with an experienced work comp attorney MN on your side, you will not have to take on this challenging legal fight alone. Instead, these lawyers can help make sure your legal rights to workers’ compensation benefits are protected and that you go after the compensation you are entitled to.
Minnesota Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system intended to provide benefits to employees who are harmed due to their employment activities. However, because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, the employee does not need to prove that another person was responsible for their injuries or establish liability to obtain these benefits. It also means that the employer cannot show that the employee’s negligence caused their injuries as part of their defense to the claim.
Generally, when it comes to these work-related injuries, any condition that is aggravated, caused, or accelerated by the employment activities can be considered a work-related injury. As a result, these injuries can include:
- Traumatic injuries
- Repetitive type of injuries
- Occupational diseases
- Qualifying mental injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Yet, although an employee does not need to show fault to obtain compensation for these injuries, they do need to show that the employment activities were a substantial contributing factor to their disability and/ or need for medical care. Fortunately, when you work with a work comp attorney MN, these attorneys can help you not only figure out whether you qualify for these workers’ compensation benefits, but they can also help you go after the maximum amount of benefits you deserve.
#1. Can You Be Fired While on Workers’ Comp?
One of the most common questions employees often have following a work-related injury is what happens if you get fired while on workers’ comp?
To answer this, we need to first point out that, unfortunately, it is possible to get fired while you are on workers’ compensation leave because you are healing from your injury or you have work restrictions because of your injuries. However, there are different circumstances that make being laid off on workers’ compensation both legal and perfectly fine or an illegal activity that may require legal action.
For instance, an employer cannot fire their employees just because they have disabilities or work-related injuries. These employers also have a duty to attempt to accommodate employees who have disabilities. As a result, if your employer laid you off strictly because you were on workers’ compensation, then this is a clear case of retaliation, which is illegal. Yet, if you have been laid off before your work injury was known, this termination will generally be acceptable and legal, even while you are on workers’ compensation.
However, before you write off a firing as being acceptable, it may be in your best interest to reach out to an experienced work comp attorney MN. These lawyers can go over the incident with you in detail, verify whether or not your firing was legal (such as if you were fired after a workers’ comp settlement), and figure out what legal options and remedies you can pursue.
#2. Can I Be Fired for Work Restrictions?
Yes. Under certain circumstances, you can be fired for work restrictions following a work-related injury. Yet, determining whether your employer illegally fired you because of these restrictions is often challenging to answer and prove. That is why the first thing you need to understand is what a reasonable accommodation actually is.
Under federal and state laws, employers with 15 or more employees are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with physical or mental disabilities, including those injured on the job. These accommodations may include a change to the workplace duties, the way the job is done, the job itself, or other parts of the job.
However, these employers are not required to grant the exact accommodation the employee prefers, as long as it provides an accommodation that effectively accommodates the individual’s injuries or disability. Consequently, determining what a reasonable accommodation entails will often depend on the job duties you have, your exact restrictions, your employer’s specific business, your workplace, and other critical factors related to your job.
For instance, examples of work restrictions may include:
- No lifting more than 30 pounds
- No lifting more than 20 pounds more than four times in one hour
- No standing for longer than an hour
- No climbing or kneeling
- No reaching your arms above your shoulders
Based on these restrictions, it may be reasonable for some employers to accommodate your lifting restrictions because the job does not involve any type of lifting. However, in other workplaces, where lifting is a part of the job, these employers may not be able to reasonably accommodate these specific restrictions if you cannot do the job at all or any other job that the employer requires. As a result, you can be fired for work restrictions.
Another common issue that arises with these work restrictions is if the “doctor says I can work, but I can’t.” This is because your eligibility to receive these benefits is dependent on your medical records and what your physician says about your capabilities following your work-related injury. If this issue arises, it is important to talk with your doctor about this miscommunication to ensure that you and the health care professional are on the same page when it comes to your pain level, difficulties with daily tasks and activities, fears about being able to complete the level of work that is expected in your specific role, and the type of strenuous work you perform on a daily basis. If that does not work, and your doctor still feels that you can return to your job, you may need to seek a second opinion. This other opinion can help you determine if you can return to work or if you need to consider applying for disability benefits.
Due to the complexity of all these workers’ compensation issues, if you were fired because of your work restrictions, you should reach out to an experienced work comp attorney MN as soon as possible. These lawyers can help you determine if your employer retaliated against you and fired you for illegal reasons and what legal action you can take in response.
#3. Can You Apply for Workers’ Comp After Being Fired?
Yes, you can still apply for workers’ compensation benefits for work-related illnesses or injuries, even if you do not file this claim until after you are laid off, voluntarily quit, or are fired. However, you may be facing extra hurdles to prove that you qualify for these benefits.
Typically, there are two reasons why you would want to apply for workers’ compensation after being fired:
- You had an on-the-job injury that seemed fine at first but later developed into a serious problem requiring medical treatment. For instance, if you fell at work and hurt your back, but the pain did not become a problem until after you were fired.
- You have a chronic condition, such as an occupational disease or a cumulative injury that developed as a result of your previous job. However, because these types of injuries and diseases can take some time to show up, as they often develop quite slowly, you may not even know you have these issues until after you are fired.
Yet, you need to remember that although you can apply for workers’ compensation after being let go, there are still factors that can impact your chance of winning your claim, such as the statute of limitations. Minnesota, for example, has specific deadlines by which you must report your work-related injuries and file a workers’ compensation claim, no matter if you are still working or have been fired. If you miss these deadlines, you risk getting your benefits denied.
#4. Can You Collect Workers’ Comp After Being Fired?
Once you meet the requirements to file a workers’ compensation claim, you may still have an uphill battle trying to prove that you are eligible for these benefits. Yet, this does not mean it is impossible to collect workers’ compensation after being fired. You just need to make sure that you produce strong medical evidence that your current medical condition was caused by your previous job duties and not because of any recent activities or something that happened after you were fired.
You should also note that the insurance company will try to look for any reason to deny your workers’ compensation claim, especially if they believe that you are just trying to get back at your employer. They may also try to reduce your benefits by arguing that your job was not the main reason you needed medical treatment.
#5. Can You Be Fired for Filing Workers’ Compensation?
Although Minnesota is an at-will state, employers cannot fire a worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim or be fired after a workers’ comp settlement. If this happens, this can be considered retaliation, and it is illegal. Yet, employers often still engage in this wrongful activity because they do not want to pay an employee more in insurance, or they believe that terminating the employee will make the problem disappear.
However, when employers partake in this illegal activity, they will not openly admit that they are firing you for your injury or disability. Rather, you will have to prove that your employer took part in this illegal behavior through detailed evidence such as showing the timing of your claim in relation to your firing, the negative comments your supervisors made regarding you filing this claim, or any other pressure that they applied to you so that you would drop your claim.
That is why if you want to ensure that you present the strongest case possible, proving that your employer retaliated against you and you were fired after your workers’ comp claim, it is recommended you reach out to an experienced work comp attorney MN. These lawyers can investigate your incident, determine if you were wrongfully fired, and help you go after the compensation you deserve according to the state’s laws.
Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you suffered a work-related injury or illness and you want to determine if you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, you should reach out to an experienced work comp attorney MN as soon as possible. At Mottaz & Sisk Injury Law, our skilled attorneys are ready to not only help you pursue the benefits you need but we can also:
- Help you gather the medical evidence you require to support your claim.
- Show that you suffered severe, long-term trauma because of your work-related injury and go after the maximum financial benefits you require.
- Assist you if your employer disputes your claim.
- Prove you were fired after filing for workers’ compensation.
- Prove you were fired after a workers’ comp settlement.
- Take on all the discussions and negotiations with the other side and fight for a just settlement offer.
- Help you appeal your claim if it has been denied.
In addition, if you believe your employer fired you because of your work-related injury, then our legal team can also help you take on this illegal retaliation and fight for the justice you are entitled to.
Following a work-related injury, do not wait to get the legal help you need. Instead, contact Mottaz & Sisk Injury Law today for a free case consultation and let our legal team show you how we can help you and your case.