Being injured at work can start a chain of unfortunate events. Depending on the severity of the injury, you could be facing months of physical therapy, lost wages, and increasing medical expenses. Luckily, most Arkansas employers offer their employees workers’ compensation insurance to provide much needed financial assistance. Unfortunately, some employers will fire an injured employee while they are collecting workers’ comp benefits. Ken Kieklak is a Fayetteville, AR workers’ compensation attorney dedicate to representing injured workers and their families. Below, Ken discusses what happens if you are fired while on workers’ compensation.
Workers’ Compensation in Arkansas
Under Arkansas law, nearly every employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation is designed to provide financial assistance to injured workers and their families if they are hurt while they are on the job. Through workers’ comp, employees are entitled to receive part of their wages and have their medical costs paid for while recovering from their injuries. These benefits are often vital if a family loses its primary source of income. Even though these benefits are generally available, you should speak with an experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyer if you are injured on the job.
In addition to having workers’ compensation insurance, employers must comply with other rules and regulations. Employees are also bound by many restrictions. For example, the medical treatment you receive will have to be approved by your employer or their insurance provider. Furthermore, your employer or insurance company is also permitted to determine your doctor. If you fail to adhere to these requirements, your benefits could be denied or canceled. However, you want to ensure you are getting the best treatment possible. If you believe that the medical decisions being made are not in your best interests, contact our Arkansas workers’ compensation case referrals attorney.
Your employer is also supposed to keep your job available while you recover. Workers’ compensation is designed to provide financial assistance and help an injured employee return to the workforce. In many cases, this means providing a job that is less physically stressful.
Firing an Employee for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Your employer is not required to create a job that falls within your work limitations if you return to work on a limited capacity after an injury. However, they are required to give you a job or make up the income difference between the workers’ compensation benefits you received and the average weekly wages you are losing.
Under Arkansas law, an employer is not permitted to fire an employee while a workers’ compensation claim is pending. Pending is the date the claim was filed to the time the employee has fully recovered or is unlikely to improve with continued medical treatment. This is often called the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI).
If you are fired during this period, it could be an act of “retaliation.” Retaliation could lead to a wrongful termination lawsuit. Furthermore, retaliation is not limited to firing an employee. Forcing an employee to resign is also prohibited under the law. Some ways this is accomplished include intentionally giving an injured employee an undesirable task or making the workplace hostile.
If you are fired when you file a workers’ compensation claim or soon after, it is crucial to speak with an experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation attorney. Proving retaliation in a wrongful termination lawsuit is challenging. While an employer is prohibited from firing you because you filed a claim, they might still be permitted to fire you for other reasons. An employer will often argue that there were planned layoffs or the termination was because your work failed to meet company standards before you were injured. Contract employees have additional safeguards depending on the terms of their employment contracts. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated after filing a workers’ compensation claim or when already receiving benefits, contact our University of Arkansas workers’ compensation attorney immediately.
Denied Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Claims and Losing Your Job
Not every workers’ compensation claim is approved. If an injured worker failed to immediately report an accident and allowed time to pass before filing an accident report with their employer, an insurance company would likely argue that the injury was not work-related. Under Arkansas law, if you are hurt on the job, you must report the incident to your employer or supervision.
Claims are also denied if an injured worker seeks out medical treatment that was not approved by either their employer or the insurance provider. The insurance company will decide what doctors you see and what procedures are covered. Failing to comply with these directives or following through with prescribed treatment could result in a denial. It is not uncommon for an employer to find a reason to fire an individual after their workers’ compensation claim was denied. Our experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation attorney is available to assist you with your initial claim and any required appeals.
Justifiable Firings and Workers’ Compensation in Arkansas
Sometimes an employee loses their job because of justifiable reasons. Perhaps their last few reviews were substantially subpar or the company was suffering financially and had to layoff several employees. Additionally, if you are unable to return to work after reaching your MMI, then an employer is not required to retain you. If this is the case, you might be eligible for additional benefits, including vocational training or permanent and total disability benefits.
If you have lost your job and it was not because of wrongful termination, you should continue to receive your workers’ compensation benefits. If this is not the case, you need to contact our Arkansas workers’ disability attorney.
Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Attorney Offering Free Consultations
When someone suffers a devastating injury at work, they are not only facing a physical recovery. Medical bills and lost income could quickly turn into a financial crisis. If someone is fired while out of work due to an injury, they might feel completely hopeless. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, has represented injured workers and their families for years. To schedule a free consultation on your case, contact Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak today at (479) 439-1843.