An accident leading to injuries at work can be the beginning of a stressful time for many people. However, if an employer lets an employee go while the employee is out of work because of injuries, the situation can become even more frightening and overwhelming. Employees who understand their legal rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act can better protect themselves and ensure that they collect the fair amount in benefits that state laws allow. Michigan regulations require most companies to carry workers’ compensation insurance in case employees suffer injuries while on the job. The statute also protects workers from being fired while on workers’ compensation for punishment after filing a claim for benefits. For help with your claim, consider contacting a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer at Bruce L. Weider, PC, by calling (734) 485-0535 to schedule a consultation.
State laws allow most workers to file for workers’ compensation benefits after work-related injuries. The payments cover partial wage replacement and 100 percent of the costs of reasonable and necessary medical care, including:
- The cost of visiting the emergency room
- Regular doctor visits
- Medical devices and equipment
- Transportation expenses for doctor appointments
- Surgery and hospital stays
- Physical therapy
Workers’ compensation laws require employers with over three employees to provide workers’ compensation insurance to protect them by allowing them to file a claim for benefits if needed. According to the Michigan Labor and Economic Opportunity, most employers in the state fall within the guidelines and must adhere to the rule of the Workers’ Compensation Act. Companies can choose how they meet the requirements, such as purchasing an insurance policy from a private insurer or joining a group fund. Payments from workers’ compensation include compensation for wage replacement, medical care, and rehabilitation care.
There is no standard time for people to collect benefits after suffering injuries at work. Depending on the circumstances, people may collect benefits for the rest of their lives if they have been left with permanent disabilities. According to the Michigan Legislature § 418.311, benefits will continue until the person is well enough to return to gainful employment. Insurance providers could, however, reduce the amount by up to 5 percent per year after the employee reaches age 65.
Many injured workers choose to settle a workers’ compensation claim through a lump-sum settlement instead of weekly checks. The one-time payout amount will vary depending on the injuries and the total cost the insurance provider determines it will pay for current and future benefits. Disputes are common among injured workers, employers, and insurance providers. If a disagreement about benefits leads to being fired while on workers’ compensation, an experienced workers’ comp lawyer at Bruce L. Weider, PC, may be able to help the worker through the process and handle communications and negotiations on his or her behalf.
The settlement amount will vary depending on the type of injuries and the length of time the worker has missed or is expected to miss work. The amount can also vary significantly depending on the unique factors of the case. Companies are required to provide their employees with insurance after they suffer injuries on the job, but the insurance company calculates the settlement.
Can a Company Fire You While Collecting Workers’ Comp?
A company may be unable to leave a position open until the worker recovers and returns to his or her job. Therefore, state rules and regulations do not require companies to keep positions open while workers seek treatment and recover from injuries at home. However, workers’ comp laws do prohibit businesses from punishing or discriminating against anyone for filing a claim for benefits. An employer cannot fire an injured worker in retaliation for filing a claim with the insurer to collect workers’ compensation benefits. The employer can, however, legally fire an injured employee for other reasons, such as company downsizing.
Termination while collecting benefits also does not automatically mean that the worker will lose benefits. Workers should be aware of their rights and responsibilities in case disputes arise about ongoing healthcare. Firing an employee for retaliation is illegal, and a company that fails to follow the statutes could pay penalties and face lawsuits for wrongful termination.
The law does not require employers to hold positions open for workers who have suffered injuries and are taking leave to collect workers’ compensation benefits. The business may choose to keep the job available for an individual who needs only a short time to recover. However, the company may need to find a replacement for a worker who will be out for an extended period. If an injured person takes time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, federal laws provide additional protection.
Most Michigan employers, including public and private businesses, have workers’ compensation coverage for injured workers. After an accident at work, an injured employee must report the injury to his or her supervisor within 90 days of the incident. Failure to notify the employer within the required time will likely mean losing eligibility to collect benefits.
The employer has the legal right to choose doctors and healthcare providers for the first 28 days of treatment. After that time passes, the worker can select physicians of his or her choice. The worker may need to give the business a written notice any wish to seek care from an alternate healthcare professional. Employees must notify their supervisor, seek medical treatment, and follow the doctor’s plan. Failure to do so could cause a loss of benefits.
Workers’ compensation laws protect employees by providing supplemental income and covering the cost of medical care after a workplace injury. While those rules do not guarantee a company will hold a position open, the company cannot retaliate as punishment for filing a claim to receive insurance benefits. Other legislation may provide additional protection, such as taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Workers’ compensation laws are complex, and the process for approval and receiving ongoing care can be challenging. If you were fired while on workers’ comp, consider contacting an experienced lawyer from Bruce L. Weider, PC, by calling (734) 485-0535 to learn more about your legal rights.