Stephen Hasner | Workers' Compensation | August 30, 2022
You could be fired in Georgia before or after you begin receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Because Georgia is an at-will employment state, employers can fire workers without reason or notice. Other than in cases that violate federal and state anti-discrimination laws, a Georgia employer can fire a worker for any cause or no cause at all.
Technically, your employer could fire you because you were injured at work. Georgia does not make it unlawful for your employer to fire you in retaliation for a work injury. However, that does not mean you are not entitled to workers’ comp benefits after termination in Georgia.
What Is Your Right to Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Most injured workers are entitled to workers’ comp benefits under the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act if they are injured in the ordinary course of their employment. Even if your employer fires you after a work injury, you are still entitled to your workers’ compensation benefits.
However, you need to protect your right to workers’ comp benefits after termination in Georgia; you need to follow the rules for reporting work-related injuries. The steps you should take include:
- Report the accident or injury to your supervisor, manager, or employer as soon as it occurs
- Seek emergency medical assistance at the hospital or non-emergency medical treatment from an employer-approved medical provider
- File a written notice of the work injury with your employer within 30 days of the injury
- Follow the doctor’s treatment plan and instructions for returning to work, including any work restrictions or limitations of life activities
- Talk with a workers’ compensation lawyer if you are unsure what you should do after a workplace accident or injury or your workers’ comp claim is denied
You should continue to receive your workers’ comp benefits after your termination from your job.
However, contact a lawyer immediately if the insurance company or your employer tries to stop your benefits before your doctor releases you to return to work. Also, seek legal advice if your employer or the insurance company refuses to compensate you for a permanent impairment after terminating your employment.
What Should I Do if I Am Fired Before I Begin Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
An employer may retaliate for a work injury by firing you immediately. Your employer might believe that firing you avoids responsibility for workers’ compensation benefits.
If this happens to you, you should:
- Seek medical treatment from a doctor on the approved provider list and tell the doctor your injury is work-related
- Write down the contact information for your employer and the workers’ comp insurance company
- Write down the names and contact information of everyone who witnessed the accident or injury
- Send written notice of your injury or accident to your employer and its insurance provider (use certified mail requiring a signature and return receipt, so you have proof that they received the notice)
- File a claim by completing a claim form and submitting it to your ex-employer or the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation
- Send a written request to your employer asking for a written statement explaining why it terminated your employment (ask for copies of your employment records too)
- Follow your doctor’s treatment plan, including all restrictions for work and other activities
If you do not begin receiving workers’ comp benefits or the benefits are incorrect, contact a workers’ comp lawyer in Savannah immediately. When the doctor releases you to return to work, keep copies of all applications and resumes you send to prospective employers. Make a list of all jobs you apply for to keep for your records.
What Workers’ Comp Benefits Can I Receive After Termination?
You are entitled to receive the same workers’ comp benefits you would have received if your employer had not fired you. Workers’ comp benefits include:
- Payment of medical bills for treatment
- Temporary disability benefits if you cannot work because of your injury
- Medical rehabilitation costs, including physical therapy
- Vocational rehabilitation if you cannot return to the same type of work
- Permanent partial or total disability benefits if you have a permanent impairment
- Death benefits for family members
The workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system. An injured worker does not need to prove fault or negligence to receive workers’ comp. They only need to prove they were injured at work during the ordinary course of employment.
Unfortunately, employers and insurance companies might try to save money by not paying valid workers’ comp claims. If you believe you are not receiving the benefits you deserve after a workplace accident or injury, you should seek legal advice.
Contact the Savannah Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Hasner Law, P.C. For Help
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