Under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws, employers are not required to hold a workers’ job while they are recovering from a workplace injury. Adding insult to injury, this means that while you are recovering from your workplace injury, you may also find yourself without a job to go back to. This causes pressing questions around whether you can receive workers’ compensation benefits after termination, and whether termination is legal or not.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Claim: How Filing Works
In Florida, workers’ compensation provides monetary funds to eligible individuals who have become injured or have suffered an occupational illness while at work. This compensation can cover a wide variety of expenses, such as: medical expenses, lost wages, on-going care, rehabilitation costs, disability benefits (short & long-term), and funeral costs.
To file a workers’ compensation claim, you must report the workplace injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible. Any later than 30-days, and your claim can be denied. Once your employer is notified, you must seek out medical treatment for the injury, which will provide you with supporting documentation. Your employer will report the claim to their insurance, and if your claim is approved, you will receive compensation. Compensation extends until you are fully able to return to work, or until 104 weeks have passed – whichever comes first.
Can I Be Fired While on Workers’ Compensation?
Even if you qualify for workers’ compensation, it does not make you immune to being laid off or terminated. This is because Florida is an “at-will” state, meaning that you are employed at the will of your employer, giving them the ability to fire you with or without cause, in so long as it is not a discriminatory termination. It also means that you are free to resign from your employment with or without reason.
However, it is illegal for any company to lay someone off or fire them as a direct result of a workplace injury, temporary disability, or because they do not want to provide benefits to you. Florida law does not allow employers to retaliate against an employee suffering from a workplace injury, or from seeking out workers’ compensation. This is considered wrongful termination, which may give employees ground to file a lawsuit against their employer.
Will I Still Receive Workers’ Compensation if Terminated?
In the majority of non-complex cases, the answer is yes. If terminated without cause while collecting workers’ compensation benefits, you are likely to receive the compensation you are due. This is because the employer’s insurer is still responsible for paying out the temporary partial disability benefit or temporary total disability benefits even if you are terminated. Unfortunately, if you are terminated with cause, and your employer can prove that it was a legal firing, and not a retaliation, then the benefits can be rescinded.
Can I File for Workers’ Compensation After Being Terminated?
If you have an open workers’ compensation claim that has been processed and approved, and you are terminated while it is pending, you still have the right to pursue the compensation benefits.
Should I Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
While an employer can legally terminate you with just cause while you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, if you believe that the termination is in retaliation to your claim, we encourage you to reach out to us here at Frank Eidson. We will fully investigate your case, review your claim, and advocate aggressively for you, so that you get the fair treatment you deserve. Give us a call at 407-245-2887 for a free case review.