• John Larrimer

Light Duty for Non-work Related Injury - Can Workers Get Fired?

When someone sustains an injury and seeks medical attention, their head might be filled with questions about what happened. However, an injured employee might have different inquiries, especially if they're worried about losing their job.


On-the-job injuries are crucial, and they can change the course of a business's financial plan. Consequently, some workers often don't report their injuries because they're afraid of the repercussions they might face if they do.


Employees suffer from an unspoken fear of receiving workers' compensation benefits. This is often a product of the fact that the premiums are tied to the rate of illnesses and injuries in the workplace.


One of the essential functions of managers is to provide employees with a safe place to work. If a worker does not report an injury due to fear, the issue might get a lot worse, which can negatively impact their health.


Nonetheless, multiple injuries don't occur when the person is working, which might lead the person to ask 'what happens then?'


This guide focuses on non-work-related injuries, what can occur to the workers, and how this can impact their daily life and job.


What about Injuries that Don't Happen on the Job?

What About Injuries That Don't Happen on the Job?


One of the most common misconceptions about this issue is that the injured worker doesn't have any responsibility after sustaining an injury if this didn't happen on the job. Many employees take 'out of sight, out of mind' at heart, and they believe that not reporting what occurred to them is the best alternative.


Before even starting to discuss workers' compensation coverage, workers' compensation claim, and similar topics, understanding what occurs when a non-work-related injury takes place is essential.


When the person's injury is not in the 'workplace injury' category, one that can fall under "workers compensation," the employee should keep in mind that they have certain responsibilities to remember if they want to keep their job. It would be helpful to learn about how many categories of work-related injuries are there.


Overall, getting a workplace injury means more implications for the employer due to workers compensation law. Nonetheless, if the employee suffers from an injury while off the job, they might be unable to perform their duties, so a replacement must step in and take care of that.

If the replacement is already in the company, working on the tasks of the injured employee might give them alternate duties to fulfill. Therefore, it will keep them from their regular to-dos.


Employers also have another solution. They can bring in a temporary worker to take over the duties of the injured employee. However, this is often also a problem because a new person cannot perform the duties as well as a known worker, and it also costs the business money that the employer didn't plan to spend.


At the same time, legally, the employer cannot refuse the person some time off due to workers compensation law. If they do, the employee might sustain further injury, which can hinder the business' productivity even more.


The employer is not legally obliged to provide the person with something more than their normal duties if the worker sustained an injury. However, it can immensely benefit the business because it shows the employees that they are valuable.


Workers Can Get Fired for an Injury


Unfortunately, not all employers consider this, and they believe workers compensation can cover any work injury. Since no employee is immune to suffering an injury, they should keep in mind that they might lose their position if the issue is essential enough to keep them from performing their usual tasks.


Medical expenses are a factor to keep in mind when the person sustains an injury as well as workers' compensation. Furthermore, there are two specific situations the employee should remember if they are in pain and having work issues related to this.


Firstly, if they get fired, they might be able to file for unemployment. Then, when they are healthy, they can start working again.


Secondly, sometimes, people did not sustain an occupational injury, but their issue is a product of someone else's negligence. In these cases, they could pursue the responsible parties and get compensation for their pain and suffering.


Employees injured outside of work risk losing their job, especially because most workers in the United States are at-will employees. In other words, in an at-will work environment, employers can legally fire employees without justification as long as it doesn't go against federal or state laws.


Therefore, employers can technically fire their employees if they sustained a non-work-related injury. Nonetheless, they cannot perform any acts of discrimination, and if they occur, the worker can contact a law firm and take legal action against them.


State laws also say that employers can fire their employees if they have a particular cause, and sustaining injuries might qualify as that. If the worker suffered from non-work-related injuries, they might not be able to perform their work and cause problems to the business.


There Are Some Exceptions


Some workers are exempt from the 'at-will' clause. If the person signs a contract when they start working for a company, then the employer cannot fire them without reason.


On these occasions, the employer must prove that the worker can't meet the terms and conditions of the contract. Thus, if the employer fires the person anyway, the worker has a valid breach of contract claim that they can take to legal authorities.


Protection Under Federal Law


Even though the employer does not have to provide the worker with a reasonable accommodation when they sustain an injury, federal law might protect the person sometimes.

If the worker, for example, sustained a long-term or permanent injury that makes them disabled forever, then they might qualify for federal law protection.


When this occurs, then the employer must provide accommodations to their employee since it is illegal to fire someone because of a disability. Some of the actions that the employer can engage in are the following:

  • Giving the person time off work

  • Changing their schedule from full-time to part-time

  • Changing their work environment so they're able to perform their work duties

Nonetheless, in some cases, the employer is unable to make these accommodations. A fantastic example of this is that the rules do not apply to a specific business with less than 15 employees.


Employees must remember that there are specific rules for each situation, and this is why they should get all the professional help they can, especially in cases where they believe their boss is not being fair or breaching their contract.


Employees Have Obligations After Sustaining the Injury


If a person did not sustain a work-related injury and they want to go for light-duty and workers' compensation benefits, there are some things they should keep in mind.


Firstly, they have to report the injury and seek medical attention. If they don't, they risk having legal issues because they are worsening their health condition.


In some cases, the current issue might stem from a pre-existing injury. When this occurs, the person should also get help from healthcare providers and tell their employer what's happening.


In cases where the employee failed to accurately communicate with their employer, the worker might suffer the consequences of not telling them what was occurring. Although they have the right to get workers' compensation benefits, they also have responsibilities.


What the Employer Must Do

The employer also has duties, even if the person sustained a non-work-related injury. Employees have a right to get time off to recover and receive treatment, and they can use their vacation days for it.


They Can Also Have Plans to Return to Work


On many occasions, employers have return-to-work policies that help the employee come back, but they might not apply if they don't suffer from a work-related injury.


Furthermore, the employer is under no obligation to provide the person with light-duty or other activities if they cannot perform their regular tasks.


Nonetheless, when employers care about their workers, they will provide them with alternatives if they get injured, especially if they know how important they are to the organization.


In some cases, employers offer workers the ability to work from home while they recover. Nonetheless, this is not a legal obligation, and it's certainly not possible on all occasions.


The Employee's Responsibilities


Right after sustaining an injury, the person must seek immediate medical care. Regardless of whether they suffered a work-related injury or not, if they are filing a workers' compensation claim, they must get help from a healthcare provider.


When people have a severe condition, getting a second opinion is often a fantastic idea. If the employer does not want to give the worker various days off work, this might be a way to let them know how grave the situation is.


Employees must also immediately notify their employers that they suffered an injury. They can ask their healthcare provider for a work slip that describes their physical condition, and it can also include the specific time they need to be off to recover from it.

Moreover, workers should keep in mind that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects the specific details of their condition as well as their medical records. Under this act, no employer can request some medical information because the person has a right to privacy.


Rights to Unemployment Benefits


Regardless of whether the person sustained a work-related injury or not, they have rights, and they must know them if they want to get fair treatment in their jobs. Most employees understand each company policy their business has, but they often don't understand their rights, and this is an issue if they are injured.


Workers can collect unemployment benefits if they are fired after suffering from an injury. However, if they are laid off due to misconduct, the benefits can vary.


The best way for a person to know what their situation means for them is to get a free case review with the Larrimer & Larrimer Group. Even so, some examples of misconduct that could affect workers' benefits are the following:

  • Committing acts of dishonesty or lying

  • Inexcusable absences from work that are repeated

  • Violating company policies deliberately

  • Performing dangerous acts, which can jeopardize the safety of other workers

  • Insubordination

If the person suffered an injury, this does not qualify as misconduct as long as they notified their boss and gave them a medical note that sustained their condition. However, the manager is still not obliged to agree to light-duty or provide them with alternate duties.


Are Workers Eligible for Compensation Coverage?

Are Workers Eligible for Compensation Coverage?


Many workers wonder if they can get workers' comp if they sustain an injury outside of their jobs. Unfortunately, this is not the case.


Workers' comp is an insurance program for the workplace, which can cover an employee's injuries if they happened in their work environment.


Workers Compensation Benefits

Even though not all workers can benefit from workers' compensation, this does not mean that all hope is lost. If the injury indeed happened as a direct result of their employment, the worker could prove this and get the settlement they deserve.


Nonetheless, proving that an injury happened on the job is not necessarily a straightforward process. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the person must provide evidence that their exposure at work caused their pain and suffering. Injuries also qualify if a work event significantly aggravated a pre-existing medical condition.


Lastly, there are some cases in which someone else's negligence causes the person's injury. When this occurs, the worker has the right to file a personal injury claim and get the settlement they deserve for what they're going through.


The worker can hire a Columbus workers comp attorney to guide them through the legal process, and once they get help both from an expert lawyer and financial advisors from The Larrimer & Larrimer group, they might get the outcomes they deserve.


Conclusion


Workers might sustain injuries on their jobs and out of them. Depending on the nature of these injuries and where they occurred, the employee might have different alternatives, such as getting workers' compensation. The same goes for if you were injured at work by another employee.


Many people wonder how much their injury is worth. However, there is no specific answer to this question, which is why getting expert help is one of the best alternatives the workers have. Thus, The Larrimer & Larrimer group is ready to guide people through the process and answer any questions they might have about workers compensation and other topics.

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