Workers’ Comp Benefits After Termination in Pennsylvania
May 13, 2022 | Workers’ Compensation
Millions of people suffer work-related injuries every year, even in sedentary jobs. Fortunately, Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation system provides injured employees with compensation for their medical bills and lost earnings. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act governs workers’ compensation claims in Pennsylvania.
Normal Duration of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Normally, you will receive workers’ compensation benefits until your doctor certifies that you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). If you have fully recovered, your benefits will end. If you still suffer from a disability after reaching MMI, workers’ compensation might classify you as permanently disabled and either extend the duration of your benefits or offer you a lump sum payment.
Your Eligibility for Workers’ Comp After Termination
There are numerous scenarios where you can still receive workers’ comp benefits for an on-the-job injury despite being terminated. However, there are some scenarios that might preclude you from receiving benefits. We explore each in depth below.
If Your Emplo yer Lays You Off While You’re Receiving Benefits
Your employer is free to lay you off even while you are still receiving workers’ compensation benefits — unless laying you off would violate the terms of your employment contract. You can still receive workers’ compensation benefits as long as you were eligible for benefits if your employer had not laid you off.
If Your Employer Fires You Without Cause
If you are an at-will employee, your employer can fire you for any reason or for no reason at all — so long as the reason isn’t unlawful. This doesn’t change just because you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. The good news is that you will not lose your benefits when your employer fires you without cause.
Suppose, however, that you are a party to an employment contract that allows your employer to fire you only for cause. If your employer fires you without cause in violation of your employment contract, you will not lose your benefits. You will also have grounds for a lawsuit against your employer.
If Your Employer Fires You With Cause
If your employer fires you for cause, you can lose your workers’ compensation benefits. For example, this might happen if your doctor clears you for light duty, and while at work you commit a wrongful act that justifies terminating your employment.
If You Fail to Return to Work After Your Doctor Authorizes Your Return
If you fail to return to work after your doctor authorizes your return, you could lose your workers’ compensation benefits — even if your doctor authorizes your return to work before you feel ready. If your doctor authorized your return earlier than they should have, you might have a basis for contesting a termination of your benefits.
If Your Employer Fires You in Retaliation for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
It is against the law for your employer to fire you in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Of course, your employer will probably disguise their real reason for firing you. Nevertheless, suspicious timing or circumstances might pave the way for a claim against your employer.
You might have a cause of action against your employer if:
- Your employer fires you immediately after you file a workers’ compensation claim;
- Your employer fires you after you talk about filing a workers’ compensation claim;
- Your employer fires while you are off work due to an injury for which you filed a workers’ compensation claim; or
- After you file a workers’ compensation claim, your employer violates the terms of your employment contract by firing you without cause.
These circumstances alone are not enough to establish a claim for wrongful termination. They do, however, constitute a basis for further investigation. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you investigate. With enough evidence, you could win a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Help with Your Claim
You have the right to retain a workers’ compensation lawyer to help you resolve your claim. Some workers’ compensation claims are simple, and you might resolve them without the help of a lawyer. However, if your employer fired you while you were receiving benefits, you should contact a lawyer.
A lawyer can help you determine whether your termination was lawful or warrants a wrongful termination suit. Your lawyer can also determine whether you are still eligible for benefits.
Contact the Workers’ Compensation Lawyers In Pennsylvania at Marzzacco Niven & Associates For Legal Help With Your Case Today
Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
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833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610