Most work-related injuries in Florida are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Therefore, if you are injured on the job, you are likely eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
However, what happens if your employer fires you after you file a workers’ compensation claim? Is firing an employee for receiving workers’ compensation benefits legal?
The good news is that workers’ compensation laws in Florida prohibit employers from retaliating for a workers’ comp claim, including firing an injured worker. Keep reading to learn more about your legal rights if you were fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws Protect Employees From Being Fired for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim
Florida law regarding employers firing employees for filing workers’ compensation claims is very clear. Florida Statute §440.205 states that an employer cannot fire or threaten to fire an employee because the employee files a valid claim or attempts to claim workers’ compensation. The employer is also prohibited from intimidating or coercing an employee because the employee files or attempts to file a workers’ comp claim.
To establish that your employer retaliated in violation of the law, you must prove the following:
- You engaged in a protected activity, which includes your right to file a claim under workers’ compensation in Florida;
- You suffered some form of adverse employment action, such as your employer fired you; and,
- There was a link between your actions and what your employer did in response to your actions.
Proving that filing a workers’ comp claim was the cause of your termination is crucial. Your employer continues to have the right to fire you for other reasons, even though you have a pending claim for a work-related injury. Therefore, it is up to you to prove that being fired was retaliation for filing the workers’ comp claim.
Unfortunately, most employers are very careful not to make a termination look like retaliation for a work injury. Therefore, you probably need help proving your case from an experienced Clearwater workers’ comp lawyer. Contact a workplace injury lawyer immediately so your attorney can gather evidence before the employer tries to hide or destroy evidence of the unlawful termination.
What Happens if You Were Fired After File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Florida is an at-will employment state. Employers can fire employees at any time without reason, provided they do not violate the law. However, you should continue receiving your workers’ compensation disability benefits until your workers’ comp case is concluded.
That is what should happen. Unfortunately, however, it is not always the case.
Your employer might not try to stop your temporary partial disability or temporary total disability payments. On the other hand, the insurance company and/or your employer might try to terminate your workers’ comp benefits.
In either case, your employer gets away with breaking the law if you do nothing about a wrongful termination. Remember, you have the right to legal counsel. Most workers’ comp lawyers offer free consultations, so it does not cost you anything to speak with an attorney about your case.
If your employer violated Florida laws by firing you because you filed a workers’ compensation claim, you could recover compensation for:
- Back pay and future loss of income
- Emotional distress
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Punitive damages
There are deadlines for filing claims related to employer retaliation. Do not wait to talk with a lawyer about your case. The sooner you take action to enforce your legal rights, the sooner you can receive the money you deserve.
What Should You Do if You Suspect You Lost Your Job Because You Filed a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
First, verify that your workers’ compensation benefits will continue. Then, ask for written verification of the benefits.
Second, ask your employer to provide a written reason why you were terminated from employment. Again, your employer may or may not cooperate.
Third, request a copy of your employment file. Try to locate your copies of employer records, including contracts, agreements, job reviews, recommendations, and other information related to your employment.
Fourth, print any communication with your employer, supervisor, or other employees regarding your injury, return to work, and termination. It is also a good idea to write down a list of individuals who could testify regarding why you were terminated.
Lastly, contact our law firm for a free case evaluation. Do not worry if you cannot collect everything. Just bring everything you have to your appointment.
Remember, do not discuss the matter with friends or coworkers. In addition, you should never post anything online about the workers’ comp case or being fired from your job. Doing so could hurt your case.
What Benefits Are Injured Workers Entitled to Receive Under Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws?
Employees file a workers’ compensation claim when they are hurt at work. Florida requires most employers to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees. A worker is entitled to receive paid medical treatment for their work-related injuries.
Additionally, if an injured employee cannot work because of their work injury, they can receive lost time benefits.
Under Florida workers’ comp laws, you could receive:
- Temporary Total Disability payments if you cannot perform any type of work because of your work injury. The benefits equal 66 2/3 of your average weekly wage. Some injuries might qualify for up to 80% of your wages for up to six months following the injury.
- Temporary Partial Disability payments are made when you can return to work, but your doctor’s restrictions prevent you from earning your full salary. The benefits equal 80% of the difference between the amount you are earning now and 80% of your pre-injury earnings.
Injured workers might receive permanent total disability payments if their injury is severe enough to prevent them from working again. These permanent disability benefits continue until the worker is 75 years old or dies. A worker might receive permanent partial disability payments based on an impairment rating.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation With Our Clearwater Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
A work injury can result in substantial financial losses. Being fired makes matters worse. If you have questions about a workers’ comp claim or your employer fires you after a work injury, call our law firm to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Clearwater workers’ compensation attorney. Call us at (727) 796-8282 today to contact a Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers attorney.