Maryland state law entitles injured workers to payments for their related medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages. These benefits are paid through an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage, which virtually every employer in our state is required to carry and maintain.
But what happens when an employer or company is less than pleased that an injured worker decided to file a workers’ compensation claim? Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for an employer to terminate a worker who was simply trying to secure benefits for their injuries and lost wages.
If you’re hesitant to pursue benefits because you’re worried about being fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim, the attorneys at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC want to assure you of your legal rights to workers’ comp benefits—you cannot be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Can My Employer Fire Me for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Injured workers often have a legitimate fear of being fired for seeking the workers’ compensation benefits to which they are entitled. However, we want to make one thing explicitly clear:
Maryland employers cannot fire injured workers for filing workers’ compensation claims.
Filing for workers’ compensation benefits is your right if you suffered a workplace injury or developed an occupational illness. State law prohibits any place of employment from discharging an employee for the act of filing for workers’ compensation benefits.
This is not to say that a worker who has filed for workers’ compensation benefits cannot be fired, but that they cannot be fired solely for the act of filing for workers’ comp.
For example, an employer may choose to fire a worker whose reckless or willfully negligent actions caused the accident that resulted in their injury. To be lawful, the termination of employment would have to be for causing the accident, not for filing for workers’ comp. A truck driver may not be fired for being injured in a crash but can be fired for drinking and driving prior to the collision.
Employers may also cite layoffs or poor past work performance as reasons for a termination that was actually motivated by a worker’s filing of a workers’ compensation claim.
What Should I Do if I Was Fired After Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
If you were fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim, the situation can feel hopeless. Although you will still receive the workers’ comp benefits to which you are entitled, not having a job to work toward returning may seriously complicate the stability of your future finances. It can be even more upsetting if it was a job that you truly enjoyed.
If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated for filing a workers’ compensation claim, the time to take action is now. We recommend taking some of the following steps in the aftermath of a wrongful termination.
Document All Evidence
Don’t let crucial evidence disappear. If you have access to or copies of positive performance reviews, make additional copies and keep them in a secure place. If possible, make copies of positive messages and emails you’ve received from supervisors and other superiors.
Secure Your Workers’ Comp Benefits
You will not lose out on your workers’ compensation benefits if you are fired. You are still entitled to benefits for temporary partial disability (TPD), temporary total disability (TTD), permanent partial disability (PPD), or permanent total disability (PTD), even if you are no longer employed at the job where you were injured. This also includes medical expenses and vocational rehabilitation.
Do not stop any attempts at securing your benefits. If you do, you may miss important deadlines, rendering your claim ineligible for benefits. A workers’ compensation attorney can help ensure you complete all required steps and paperwork by all deadlines.
Can I Lower My Chances of Being Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
When an employee files for workers’ compensation, it can cause an employer’s future insurance premiums to increase. While this is a cost of doing business that employers should absorb, many seek to instead minimize their expenses by discouraging injured workers from filing for workers’ comp. One of the most effective ways they do this is by firing those who file claims.
While that worker may still be entitled to benefits, it sends a clear message to other workers: file for workers’ compensation and face the same fate.
One of the best ways to show your employer that you know your rights is to secure the services of a workers’ compensation attorney. Having the backing of an attorney who understands how the Maryland workers’ compensation system works and who is willing to fight for the benefits you are owed can make the difference in your claim.
The Time To Take Action for a Work Injury Is Now
You have only 10 days to notify your employer of an injury and only 60 days to file your initial workers’ compensation claim. Those who have developed occupational illnesses have a year to inform employers and two years to file their claims.
In either case, the time will pass by much more quickly than you may realize. Missing the deadline to notify your employer or to file your claim will potentially render you ineligible for the benefits that you are otherwise entitled to.
At Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, we ensure that all deadlines are met. Our clients know that we work diligently to complete all paperwork and submit all documentation in as timely a manner as possible; and we do so with compassion and understanding for what they are going through.
You are not alone in this.
A serious work injury can upend your life, but an attorney from our Baltimore law firm will do everything in their power to set it back on track. For a free consultation with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney, please contact Belsky & Horowitz, LLC at your earliest convenience.