I have spent the past 28 years proudly representing people who have been hurt on the job. A large part of my law practice involves just talking to people. On the phone. In my office. At the grocery store. In a boat while fishing – you name it. Some of these people are clients, some are friends or acquaintances and many of them are people I am meeting or speaking with for the first time because they know I’m a lawyer and they have a legal question.
Why am I telling you this? Because “can I get fired for filing a work comp claim” seems to be a question on a lot of people’s minds these days. I am hearing that question, or others like it, more frequently than I can ever remember.
Why is that? Well, this is only an educated guess, but I think the scary economy of the past few years has people afraid for their jobs and worried about their financial security (no kidding). I sense that there are a lot of people “working hurt’ right now – people who are afraid to file a work injury claim or “rock the boat’ in any way that might put their job in jeopardy.
So answer the question already, will ya? Can I get fired for filing a work comp claim?
OK, OK. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to that question. Legally, at least in Minnesota, you can’t be fired for reporting or making a work injury claim. There is a Minnesota law which prohibits your employer from retaliating against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. In addition, your employer may not discharge, threaten to discharge or intentionally obstruct you from seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
Just because its against the law, however, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. Of course it does. Laws are broken everyday. That’s why we have courts and millions of lawyers.
How can you protect yourself?
If you get hurt at work, the workers’ compensation system is there to help you with wage loss benefits, medical coverage and vocational rehabilitation assistance. But you can’t get the benefits if you don’t make the claim.
Here are some suggestions:
Make sure you have promptly reported the injury to your employer. Carefully and completely fill out any injury report forms available at work. See your doctor or chiropractor right away and give a detailed and accurate history of how you were injured and what symptoms you are experiencing. Make sure your boss, foreman, co-workers or others are aware of the injury and how it happened, so there will be no shortage of witnesses if the claim is disputed. Also, the more people who know about the injury, the less likely an employer might be to risk retaliating against you.
Talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about your legal rights and the employer’s responsibilities. In my experience, once you have a lawyer in your corner, the employer and insurer are far less likely to bend the laws which are intended to protect you. They know when they are being watched.
If you have questions or concerns about a retaliatory discharge or other harassment following a work injury, call me at Bradt Law Offices anytime for a free consultation.
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