As worker compensation lawyers in Douglasville, GA, we receive many questions about the possibility of leaving your current job if you have filed a workers’ compensation claim. People tell us they no longer feel comfortable working at the same job or that a new job has opened that they would like to apply for. Of course, each workers’ compensation claim is unique, and everyone has their reasons for quitting. Even so, resigning from your job during a Georgia workers’ compensation claim can negatively affect your claim. In short, my answer would be no, don’t quit your job if you have a workers’ compensation claim.
Have you been injured at work? Are you thinking about quitting your job? Get free advice from an attorney today with a free consultation. There is no obligation to hire us after your consultation. Call us today at (770) 489-3456 to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Douglasville, GA.
Keep reading to learn how quitting your job can jeopardize your claim and how to protect your right to workers’ comp benefits. Hopefully, this information will help you make the right decision regarding your compensation claim and future employment.
Does Quitting Disqualify Me From Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Georgia?
Quitting your job doesn’t automatically disqualify your workers’ comp claim, but it could make it more complicated. You don’t want to give your employer a reason to argue that you aren’t eligible for workers’ comp benefits, and quitting could do that. Unless your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage was terminated while you were still employed, you may still qualify for benefits under it. You can follow up with a worker’s compensation attorney if you do not have a good working relationship with your employer (previous or current) to discuss if you should quit or not.
You Could Lose Your Wage Replacement and Medical Benefits
It is a requirement of Georgia law for employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. If you leave your job voluntarily, you may not be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If you’re already receiving benefits, your weekly benefit payments may stop altogether when you quit your job. If you give your employer notice, they could cancel your benefits before you even leave. You may not be reimbursed for medical care costs if that happens.
It’s Best to Focus on Your Health First
It’s best to wait until you completely recover from the injury before leaving your job for another position. You could be liable for medical costs accumulated during a lapse in coverage. In addition, your injury is at risk of relapsing or worsening if you return to full-time work. Let a doctor weigh in with their professional opinion and tell you if you are released for work.
You could be left without any benefits if you aggravate the injury before it’s fully healed and return to work. Your new company could also fire you for misrepresenting your condition if you are not honest about your injury and are unable to perform your work correctly. You can avoid situations like that by waiting until you’re fully healed before switching jobs. Always focus on your health first and participate in all of your medical appointments.
What is Forced Resignation?
Some employers force injured employees to quit instead of firing them, either by explicitly telling them to quit or by making their work life so difficult that they are forced to leave. They may see the injured employee as a liability to keep at their company. This would be considered “forced resignation” instead of “voluntary resignation.”
Can You Be Fired After Reporting an Injury at Work?
Yes. You can legally be fired if you seek Georgia workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, this is permitted by Georgia law.
There is, however, some good news as well:
- You do not lose your right to benefits just because you are fired. If you lose your job, your claim is still valid.
- You will still be eligible for all workers’ compensation benefits, including lost wages, medical care, and reimbursement for transportation. Lump sum settlements may also be available.
- Often, your settlement value may increase if you lose your job because your employer cannot offer you light-duty work.
- It is typical for workers’ comp settlement paperwork to include a required resignation, even if your employer does not fire you immediately. Injured workers are viewed as a potential liability by most employers and insurers.
Sadly, Georgia workers’ compensation law does not prohibit a company from firing an injured employee if they cannot return to work. Insurance companies often insist that the injured employee be terminated due to liability, even if your supervisor does not want to fire you.
You will not lose your workers’ compensation benefits if you are terminated due to a work injury. In fact, you may actually benefit from getting fired in some cases. For example, the insurance company may owe you more compensation if your doctor releases you to light work after you’ve already been fired. This is because the insurance company can no longer offer you a “light duty” position since you are not employed.
In addition, if you are fired, you may have rights under the Americans With Disability Act (ADA) or Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that you can waive for a bigger settlement. Lastly, you won’t have to worry about returning to your previous job since you’ve been fired. Instead of focusing on work, you can concentrate on getting better.
At the Law Office of Elene Welsh, we understand how frightening it can be when your job disappears, especially when sitting at home unsure of the future. So our team fights to ensure our clients receive quality medical care and the benefits they need. We want to guide you in recovering as much money as possible to help you move on to the next phase of your life. Call our team today at (770) 489-3456 to learn more about how we help our clients with their workers’ compensation cases.
Your Benefits May Be Terminated if You Don’t Comply with the GA Workers’ Compensation Act
Injured workers can use workers’ compensation to recover from their injuries, return to gainful employment, and remain financially stable while out of work. However, your benefits may be terminated if you fail to comply with the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act in the following ways:
- Refusing to take a drug or alcohol test after an accident within a specified period of time (OCGA § 34-9-17(b)(3).
- Not reporting an injury before the deadline. A statute of limitations applies to work injuries. This means there is a time limit for reporting your injury to your employer. Your employer should be notified as soon as possible of your injury. Your company will also require you to complete and forward any necessary paperwork.
- Refusing to submit to medical exams by the authorized treating physician or an independent medical examiner can terminate your benefits. Medical evaluations, treatment, rehabilitation, and investigation of your claim must be handled in cooperation with your employer and authorized treating physician.
- Not returning to suitable employment. In some cases, you may be able to return to a “light duty” position upon approval from your authorized treating physician. So, if your employer provides a light-work job for you, and you do not attempt it, your workers’ comp benefits may stop. However, if that position pays less, you may be eligible for benefits to replace some of that lost income.
- Continuing to work somewhere else while receiving disability benefits will automatically terminate your benefits. In addition, depending on the circumstances, you may also face criminal charges for insurance fraud.
Proving That a Previous Job Caused Your Workers’ Comp Injuries
If you quit your job, you may face an uphill battle to prove that you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, even if you file your claim by the deadline. A solid medical record is required to prove that your medical condition is related to the duties you performed in your previous job rather than activities you have engaged in since leaving.
Many insurance companies deny workers’ compensation claims if they think the fired or laid-off employers are trying to get back at their old employers. In addition, they may try to deny or reduce your benefits by arguing that your most recent job isn’t the reason you need medical treatment.
In any case, you should not be prevented from filing a legitimate workers’ compensation claim after leaving your job or from appealing the denial of your claim. To support your workers’ compensation claim after quitting, you can do the following:
- Inform your former employer about your work-related injury or illness as soon as possible, and ask what steps you need to take to make a formal report.
- Make sure to choose an authorized treating doctor so that you can seek medical advice about the cause of your injury or illness.
- Contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Douglasville for free advice on your claim. Call (770) 489-3456 to speak with a Georgia lawyer now for a free consultation.
Hurt at Work and Want to Quit Your Job?
Before letting your employer know you intend to leave, consult with a workers’ compensation attorney for advice. Don’t make an uninformed decision and lose your medical and wage replacement benefits.
You can count on the attorneys at the Law Office of Ellene Welsh to examine the details of your claim and advise you on what your best course of action might be. Call us today at (770) 489-3456 for a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Douglasville, GA.