Quitting a job with a pending workers' compensation claim can negatively impact an injured worker's case. In most cases, it's best to avoid quitting and seeking new employment soon after filing for workers' compensation. On the other hand, employers may still need to pay certain benefits regardless of whether the employee stays with the company. A workers' compensation attorney can help you retain the benefits your employer still owes after your resignation.
Risks When Quitting a Job With a Pending Workers' Compensation Claim
Your current employment status with a company shouldn't impact whether you are owed compensation for a previous workplace injury. However, there are some risks claimants face when they terminate their employment with the company paying them workers' compensation benefits. The following are some of the specific risks posed when an individual quits a job while a workers' comp claim is pending.
The Employer May Have Cause to Believe the Injury Is from the New Job
In some cases, an employee may file a workers' comp claim, quit the job for which he or she initially filed the claim, and begin working a new job. However, this can give the employer at the first job reason to argue that the injuries stated in the claim have to do with the new occupation.
Withheld Payment for Missed Time from Work
If an employee quits his or her initial job and works at a second job, and the injuries involved in the workers' comp case cause the employee to miss work at that second job, the employer at the first job may reason that they don't need to pay benefits for any missed time.
Oftentimes, defendants in workers' comp cases are eager to pay additional compensation in settlements involving an injured employer who retains employment. Quitting voluntarily, however, can cause the defendants to avoid paying this additional amount and further limit the amount of compensation the injured employee can receive.
When It's Possible to Maintain Workers' Compensation if You Quit
Although it's typically in the injured employee's best interest to avoid resigning until a workers' compensation case has settled, employers will still need to pay certain workers' comp benefits independent of employment status. For example, individuals on permanent disability, including loss of mobility or limbs, are still eligible to receive a lump-sum judgment or continued payments even if they no longer work for the job they were injured at. If a doctor determines that an injured worker still needs treatment, it's also still possible to receive medical benefits outside of wage replacement benefits. Medical benefits under workers' compensation are portable, and employees are covered for treatment associated with the workplace injury regardless of future employment status. Some individuals may also choose to receive a lump-sum judgment if they still require financial assistance after resigning from an employer. Considering the risks of resigning with a pending workers' comp claim, injured workers are typically better off waiting until a case has settled before quitting their job.
When Does It Make Sense to Quit Your Job on Workers' Comp?
Claimants should, in most cases, maintain their employment while waiting for a workers' comp claim to settle. However, if new opportunities that won't aggravate injuries present themselves to injured workers, it may be in the employee's best interest to leave his or her previous position. Additionally, claimants may no longer feel safe at their previous job after an accident. A workers' compensation lawyer with Pothitakis Law Firm can help you determine what benefits you'll retain if you leave your position during a claim.