I’m worried my job will fire me if I make a workers’ compensation claim!
As a workers’ compensation attorney, I hear this all the time. Let’s explore this.
1. If you are hurt on the job, regardless of who is at fault, you have a workers’ compensation claim. What does this mean? It means that your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will pay for your medical care, it will pay you wage replacement benefits and it will pay you a host of other benefits, too.
2. If you are hurt on the job and you put your medical care through your regular health insurance, instead of workers’ compensation, bear in mind that some might consider that to be insurance fraud. You don’t want to commit any crimes or create extra problems for yourself. If the injury is on the job, then put it through correctly.
3. If your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier is paying for your medical treatment, without you formally filing a legal claim on your own or with an attorney, bear in mind that even though no formal legal claim has been filed, it is still a workers’ compensation claim going through your employer’s workers’ comp insurance. In other words, although you may not have formally “filed a claim” you have a claim going anyway.
4. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against you, discriminate against you or discharge you based on you having or pursuing a workers’ compensation claim. So if this happens, you have rights to pursue. The applicable Connecticut law is Section 31-290a of the Connecticut General Statutes.
5. Now, let’s talk about the real world. We all know that even though it would be illegal for your employer to give you a hard time about having a workers’ comp claim, many do it anyway, or they disguise it to avoid getting into trouble. Who wants to have to deal with this? Nobody. Plus, jobs can be hard to come by, so legal rights or not, you don’t want to lose your job. Reality check: like it or not, having a workers’ compensation claim is the boat that you are in. But importantly, you are NOT in this boat because you are choosing to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. Rather, you are in this boat because you were hurt on the job. The rest is just what flows from it.
6. Can you do anything to make the waters smoother sailing? Sure. Try to maintain a good relationship with your employer. You can let your employer know that as soon as you are better and your doctor lets you, you’ll be back on the job working hard. You can let your employer know that you intend to get better and return asap. You can even let your employer know that if you have a lawyer, it’s really only so that you have someone knowledgeable and experienced to watch your back when it comes to dealing with the insurance company, as we all know how insurance companies can be.
In the end, when you are hurt on the job, workers’ compensation kicks in. You’ll want to remember: 1) try to maintain a good relationship with the employer; 2) you have rights should you face retaliation; and 3) get a lawyer to watch your back to ensure that the workers’ comp insurance carrier plays by the rules and pays you the correct benefits.