Surprisingly, yes. While you were home recuperating from your on-the-job injury, you may have thought you were safe from getting fired by your employer. Then came the registered letter in the mail notifying you that your employer was terminating your employment. But, wait a minute. Doesn’t your Georgia workers’ comp claim protect you from getting fired? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Some employers immediately fire the injured worker, and other employers have policies that keep you on the employment rolls for 13 to 26 weeks according to their regulations to see if you’re released to regular duty work during that time period. If you’re not released to regular duty by a certain time period, you’re let go. That doesn’t mean your workers’ comp claim is over. Workers’ comp will continue to pay you lost wage benefits until your doctor releases you to return to regular duty work.
Now let’s consider what will happen to you if you already returned to work with restrictions and were fired for cause. Start a job search immediately. Until you start a job search you can’t start the clock running on entitlement to lost wage benefits. You must begin a job search for suitable light duty work and keep track of your job search with the date you looked for work, the name of the employer, the position applied for, who you spoke to, if you filled out an application, and if you had an interview. To get your weekly lost wage benefits reinstated, the judge must find that your job search is continuous, sincere and done in good faith. You need to apply with at least 2 to 3 employers each week until your hearing and I recommend 3 to 5 employers and don’t stop looking even though it’s discouraging. If there are few places of business where you reside, you may be re-applying at the same businesses every 2 to 3 months until your hearing. If the business tells you to check back, please do so. It’s important to prove that you are giving your best efforts. You need to memorize your work restrictions or make several copies of it to attach to a job application. Today, most job applications are completed online and there may be no space to indicate your restrictions. But if there is, you need to be prepared to list your restrictions or to attach or download a copy of your restrictions. This is another necessary element to prove entitlement to lost wage benefits, although it may seem counterintuitive in looking for a job.
If you have questions about being fired while on workers’ comp benefits Affleck & Gordon offers a free consultation and our experienced workers’ comp attorneys are just a phone call 404-373-1649 or click away.