Getting injured on the job can put you in a precarious situation and cause you a lot of worry. You may find yourself stressing over how your family’s financial needs will be met during the time you’re unable to work and how your place of employment will handle you not being there until your injuries are healed.
Fortunately, one thing you won’t have to worry about is being fired from your job because you’ve been injured. The law and workers’ compensation are there to protect you.
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance mandated by every state that provides wage benefits and medical coverage to workers who get hurt or become ill on the job. The amount of these benefits varies from state to state.
Workers’ compensation falls under the category of social insurance. This is because it’s a product of a social contract that exists between a business’s management department and its workers. The contract is based on business owners purchasing the insurance in order to be protected from civil lawsuits that might otherwise be filed by any employee who gets hurt on the job.
Workers’ compensation insurance premiums can be a burdensome cost to small businesses. Especially in today’s economy, companies are looking to streamline by boosting revenue and cutting back on extra expenses any way they can.
What employee benefits are covered by workers’ compensation?
In Arizona, all medical expenses related to the treatment and recovery from a work-related illness or injury are covered. In cases where time off work is necessary for recovery, a portion of lost wages is also paid.
Arizona workers’ compensation also covers the following:
- Continued care. In the case of more serious injuries, such as a broken arm or back injury, surgeries followed by several weeks or months of physical therapy may be necessary. All of these costs will be covered by workers’ compensation.
- Lost wages. Two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage prior to their illness/injury will be provided when time off is necessary for recovery.
- Repetitive injuries. When injuries occur from repeated strain resulting from daily work, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, workers’ compensation covers the costs.
- Work-related illnesses. Workers’ compensation covers illnesses resulting from dangerous substances or unhealthy working conditions.
- Disability benefits. When work-related illness or injury requires an employee to be off work for an extended period of time, disability benefits will be paid.
- Funeral expenses. If an employee dies from a work-related situation, their family will receive death benefits from workers’ compensation, including funeral expenses.
Can you be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
Many people worry that exercising their right to file a workers’ compensation claim will result in termination from their job, and to be bluntly honest, there’s no doubt that this has happened.
However, employers are well aware that doing so would result in a longer period of providing workers’ compensation payments to the injured party as well as leaving them open to a civil lawsuit and even greater financial loss via punitive damages awarded to the injured party in court.
Can you be laid off while on workers’ compensation?
Yes. Should your employer enact systematic downsizing or layoffs during the time you are off work as a result of a work-related injury covered by workers’ compensation, you are still susceptible to these types of termination.
What happens if you return to work with restrictions and then you get laid off?
While returning to work with restrictions does not protect you from layoffs or termination, if a layoff occurs through no fault of your own, you can get your wage loss benefits reinstated once you are laid off. This is in place of traditional unemployment benefits, which are usually less than wage loss benefits.
What happens to your workers’ compensation benefits if you’re laid off after an injury?
In the event you’re laid off after you have a workers’ compensation claim, will you continue to receive your benefits?
Basically, yes. However, there are some further details you need to be aware of.
If this occurs, you should provide your employer with documentation from your doctor stating that you may return to work with reasonable restrictions. If your employer refuses to allow you to return to work, then your workers’ compensation benefits will continue, at least until your recovery is complete.
If you’re approved by your employer to return to work, then there is a possibility that they may send you a document known as a Notice of Ability to Return to Work. Be aware that they may send this before your recovery is complete. At this point, they are notifying you that your job is awaiting your return.
Also, be aware that if your doctor has approved you to return to your job and your employer has accepted you back, if you choose not to return to work, your workers’ compensation benefits will come to an end.
If you get hurt at work, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company is supposed to provide you with certain benefits while you recover from your injury. Unfortunately, many insurance companies will do whatever they can to minimize those benefits.
Contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney
Work injuries can be devastating, especially if your employer attempts to lay you off or fire you for filing a claim for compensation that you deserve. If you’ve been injured at work in Arizona, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure your rights are protected.