A work injury can be devastating. If you suffer a severe work-related injury, you could be looking at months of painful recovery, physical therapy, and lost wages. Fortunately, most Arkansas employers provide their employees a safety net through workers’ compensation insurance. One question our law office gets is, “what happens if I quit my job while I’m collecting?”
Quitting your job while receiving worker’s compensation will affect your benefits. While you should still be able to collect monetary benefits for your medical expenses, you will likely lose any benefits directly related to your lost salary. Some people consider quitting their current job to take a position where their injury does not prevent them from working. In this case, you could be eligible for partial benefits. It is crucial to have an experienced lawyer working at your side.
Our Fayetteville workers’ compensation attorneys are available to help you with your worker’s compensation claim, whether you plan to stay on the job or not. Our office has been guiding injured workers through this challenging process for decades and has seen about every problem and issue that could hamper your claim. Call (479) 439-1843 to discuss your current situation with one of our knowledgeable lawyers.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION MEDICAL BENEFITS AND QUITTING YOUR JOB
One of the primary benefits available to injured employees through workers’ compensation insurance is coverage for their medical expenses. Depending on the severity of an injury, an injured worker could be facing weeks of hospitalization, multiple surgeries, physical therapy, and high medication costs. Fortunately, if you quit your job, you should still receive medical benefits – up to a point anyway.
Am I Still Eligible for Medical Benefits in Arkansas if I Quit My Job?
If you quit your job, you should still be entitled to the medical benefits under Arkansas workers’ compensation law. However, if you were receiving health insurance or benefits through your employer, those benefits will terminate with your job. Workers’ compensation benefits are not health insurance.
MAXIMUM MEDICAL IMPROVEMENT
If you are receiving medical benefits through workers’ compensation, they will continue until your condition has reached “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). MMI means that you have reached a point in your recovery where further improvement of your condition is impossible. This does not necessarily mean that you are fully healed from your injury. When your doctors determine that your condition will not improve, no matter what medical treatment you receive, you have reached maximum medical improvement.
If you are injured at work and receive medical care through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, an approved doctor will give you a disability rating. Our Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyer should be given a written statement detailing your rating. Included in this rating will be any work restrictions or limitations your doctor recommends.
Once you have reached your MMI, your workers’ compensation medical benefits will end. This is true whether you return to work as a full-time employer, on limited duty, or if you had quit your job. Our experienced Arkansas worker’s compensation attorney can help ensure that you receive the treatment you deserve. If additional medical treatment or therapy is available that will improve your condition, the insurance company or their approved physician should not determine that you reached your MMI.
QUITTING YOUR JOB AND LOST WAGES BENEFITS THROUGH WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
If you are out of work due to an injury that you suffered while on the job, you are entitled to lost wage benefits through workers’ compensation. Under Arkansas law, the period you will receive wage benefits is determined by the category of injury. Additionally, you will not be receiving your full salary. Most injured employees collecting workers’ compensation benefits are paid approximately 2/3 of their regular salary. This amount is also capped by statutory limits.
If you are completely disabled and unable to work, then you could be entitled to additional benefits. Our University of Arkansas workers’ compensation attorney will help you understand the full scope of available benefits. However, lost wage benefits differ from medical benefits. Lost wage benefits are designed to provide financial assistance to workers who are unable to work because of the injury they suffered on the job. The keyword in the previous sentence is “workers.” If you quit your job, then you are no longer employed by your employer. Therefore, you will lose your lost wage benefits under workers’ compensation if you quit your job.
How Long After Your Injury do you Have to Stay at Your Job?
If you are thinking about leaving a job after filing a worker’s compensation claim, our office advises doing so only after your claim is settled. It is possible, that if all parties believe the settlement is fair, that your employer or insurer will not deem it worthwhile to reopen your worker’s comp claim if you quit your job.
Furthermore, you should also wait until you have reached your maximum medical improvement. You want to ensure that your doctor has signed off on your medical treatment and that our Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyers have calculated your total losses and damages. This is the only way to ensure that your settlement is fair and equitable.
QUITTING YOUR JOB TO TAKE A LOWER-PAYING POSITION WHILE ON WORKER’S COMPENSATION
If your medical condition limits your ability to work, you might consider quitting your current position to take a lower-paying job that will afford you some income. This is especially the case if your former employer cannot provide you with a job that you are physically capable of doing. Under these circumstances, you might be eligible for partial disability payments. However, obtaining these benefits is rarely straightforward and an experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation case referrals attorney could prove invaluable during the process.
DO I LOSE MY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS IF I WAS FORCED TO QUIT MY JOB?
Under Arkansas and federal law, an employer is prohibited from firing an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This illegal practice is known as “retaliation.” However, few employers will blatantly fire a worker because they filed an injury claim. If an employee is fired, their employer will often justify it as part of a previously planned budget cut or claim that the employee was fired for poor work performance before the injury. If you believe you have been fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim, it is crucial to speak with a knowledgeable Arkansas workers’ compensation attorney.
Not every employer will come right out and fire an employee after they have filed a workers’ compensation claim. In some situations, an employer will make the workplace so hostile that a worker believes their only course of action is to quit. For example, when an employee is cleared for limited duty by their doctor, they are given what amounts to horrible work to force them to quit. This type of conduct is also considered retaliation and is illegal. It is crucial to call our Arkansas RiceLand Foods workers’ compensation attorney if you believe you were placed in a position where your only option was to quit your job.
What if I am Forced to Quit My Job While on Workers’ Compensation?
Legally, your employer is prohibited from firing you because you filed a worker’s compensation claim. However, some employers will attempt to force an employee to quit rather than risk firing them outright. This could be accomplished by making the work experience so difficult that the employee will be forced to leave. An employer will often do this to avoid paying unemployment or other benefits.
If you voluntarily quit a job, you will usually not be allowed to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination. While you should still receive benefits for your medical expenses if you were on workers’ comp, it could impact your ability to collect benefits for your lost salary. Furthermore, you will not have a job to return to if you quit.
Being forced to resign is not categorized as voluntarily leaving a job. Legally, this is referred to as constructive discharge. When an employer purposefully makes an employee’s work experience so untenable that their only recourse is to quit, it is considered a legal termination. Under these circumstances, an injured employee would have the same legal rights as if their employer said, “you are fired.”
CALL OUR ARKANSAS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAWYER TO SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION
If you are hurt on the job, you could be facing a host of problems and issues. Whether it is a difficult recovery period, increasing medical expenses, or the financial strain of lost wages, injured Arkansas workers do not always have an easy road ahead. While you could be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, the claim process can be challenging, especially if you are dealing with intense medical treatment. Workers who quit their jobs while receiving workers’ compensation add even more difficulties. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is committed to helping injured Arkansas workers navigate the workers’ compensation process. To schedule a free consultation and discuss how quitting affects your benefits, contact our office at (479) 439-1843.
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