Can I Be Fired for an Injury Outside of Work? - All About Workers' Compensation Claims
Various legal rights and obligations govern the relationship between an employee and their employer.
One critical aspect is whether an employee can be fired for an injury sustained outside the workplace. Although laws differ across jurisdictions, this article explores the general principles surrounding this issue, emphasizing worker's compensation claims and work-related injuries.
What Is a Workers' Compensation Claim?
Worker's compensation is a system designed to protect employees who suffer injuries or illnesses while performing their duties.
It provides financial support for medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs, helping eligible employees recover and return to work. However, the question remains. Can an employee be fired for an injury that occurs outside the workplace and is unrelated to their job?
Employment-at-will and Exceptions
In most jurisdictions, employment is considered "at-will," meaning either party—the employer or the employee—can terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause.
However, several exceptions exist to protect employees from unfair dismissals related to injuries outside of work.
Disability Discrimination Laws
One significant exception to employment-at-will is disability discrimination laws. These laws prohibit employers from terminating employees due to disabilities, whether they arise from work-related or non-work-related injuries.
Employers must provide reasonable light duty accommodations for any injured employee, allowing them to perform their job duties unless doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer.
Interplay with Worker's Compensation Laws
While worker's compensation laws typically cover injuries sustained on the job, some states extend coverage to certain injuries that occur outside the workplace but are still work-related.
These work-related injuries may include incidents that happen during business-related travel, company-sponsored events, or while performing job duties off-site.
The "Coming and Going" Rule
In general, injuries that occur during an employee's commute to and from work are not covered by worker's compensation. Consequently, employers are not obligated to retain an employee solely based on an injury sustained during these commuting periods.
However, exceptions to this rule may apply if the employee is performing job-related tasks while commuting or if their employment contract specifically includes coverage for commuting injuries.
Disciplinary Action for Off-duty Conduct
Employers often have policies addressing off-duty conduct, including injuries that occur outside the workplace. Sometimes, an employee's off-duty behavior could violate company policies or harm their ability to perform their job duties.
In such situations, employers could take disciplinary action, including termination, even if they were injured outside of work.
Consideration of State Laws
It is crucial to recognize that labor and employment laws vary from state to state, and in some cases, even at the municipal level. Some states provide broader employee protections, while others adhere more closely to the employment-at-will principle.
Therefore, employees and employers should consult local laws and seek legal counsel when dealing with specific situations involving off-duty injuries and termination.
Legal Recourse and Job Protection
If an employee believes they have been wrongfully terminated due to an injury that occurred outside of work, they must find legal help. The first step is to consult an employment attorney to evaluate the circumstances and determine whether any laws have been violated or not.
In some cases, the employee could be entitled to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination, disability discrimination, or violation of workers' comp laws.
Differences Between a Work-related Injury and a Non-work-related Injury
Distinguishing between work-related and non-work-related injuries is essential in determining legal rights and responsibilities. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can provide more insight on if you are re injured after returning to work.
The legal differences between these two types of injuries are primarily related to compensation, employer liability, and the application of workers' compensation laws. Here are some key points to consider:
Workers' Compensation Coverage
Generally, workers' compensation laws provide coverage for injuries or illnesses that arise out of and occur in the course of employment. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for questions like, "How does workmans comp work when u have 2 jobs?"
This means that if an injury occurs while an employee performs job-related tasks or is within the scope of their employment, it is likely to be considered a work-related injury and should get workers' compensation coverage.
In contrast, injuries that occur outside the scope of employment, such as during personal activities or unrelated accidents, are typically considered non-work-related injuries. These injuries aren't usually eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
When an employee sustains a work-related injury, the employer is generally held responsible for providing workers' compensation benefits. Workers' compensation tends to work as a "no-fault" system.
Therefore, it doesn't matter who caused the injury. The employee will always get workers' comp benefits. Employees typically waive their right to sue their employer for negligence in exchange for these benefits.
In the case of those who get injured outside of work, employers are typically not held liable unless specific circumstances establish employer negligence or wrongdoing.
Suppose an employer organizes an event or requires employees to engage in activities outside of work that lead to an injury. In that case, they may be held accountable for those injuries.
Compensation and Legal Recourse
Worker's compensation claim benefits generally cover medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and a portion of lost wages for work-related injuries.
Employees injured in their workplace are always allowed to file a workers' comp claim, no matter who is responsible for the incident. Workers' compensation claims are generally handled through an administrative process rather than a traditional lawsuit.
On the other hand, employees may need to seek compensation for an off-the-job injury through other means, such as personal health insurance, private disability insurance, or filing a personal injury lawsuit against the other party.
In these cases, employees must establish that another person or entity was negligent or at fault for their injuries.
What to Do After Sustaining a Non-work-related Injury
When someone gets injured outside of work, it's essential to take specific steps to ensure the victim's well-being. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
Seek Medical Treatment
The first and most crucial step is to seek medical attention promptly. Depending on the severity of the injury, the victim may need to call emergency services or visit the nearest hospital. Medical help ensures their injury gets properly assessed, treated, and documented.
Follow the Doctor's Instructions
Following the healthcare provider's instructions for treatment, medications, and rehabilitation is crucial. Adhering to their recommendations will aid the victim's recovery process and potentially prevent further complications.
Notify Relevant Parties
If the injury occurred due to another person or entity's negligence or wrongful act, the victim must notify the appropriate parties.
This could include property owners, managers, or supervisors who may be responsible for the circumstances leading to the injury. Reporting the incident as soon as possible helps establish a record of the incident and can be valuable for potential legal proceedings.
Document the Incident
Documenting the details of the incident is vital for potential legal claims or insurance purposes.
The victim must take photos of the accident scene, gather contact information from witnesses, and write down a detailed account of what happened. These records can strengthen their case if they decide to seek compensation or legal action.
Report the Injury to Insurance Providers
Suppose the victim has personal health insurance or other relevant insurance policies (e.g., auto insurance in the case of a car accident). In that case, they must report the injury to their insurance company immediately.
They can guide them through the claims process and provide information about coverage for medical expenses and potential compensation.
Consult with an Attorney
Consulting with workers comp lawyers in Dallas is advisable if the non-work-related injury occurred due to someone else's negligence.
They can assess the circumstances, review the victim's rights, and guide them on the legal options available to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or other damages.
Follow Legal Procedures
If the victim decides to pursue a personal injury claim, their attorney will guide them through the legal procedures. This typically involves filing a complaint, gathering evidence, engaging in negotiations, and potentially going to court.
It's essential to comply with the prescribed legal processes to protect the victim's rights and maximize their chances of a favorable outcome.
What to Do as an Injured Employee
Although laws surrounding the termination of employees for injuries occurring outside the workplace vary across jurisdictions, several legal protections are in place to safeguard employees' rights.
Disability discrimination laws, worker's compensation coverage for certain work-related injuries, and state-specific regulations contribute to the overall landscape. Employees and employers must understand the laws and consult legal professionals to ensure compliance and protect their rights in off-duty injuries and termination cases.
Nonetheless, suppose someone gets injured outside of work. In that case, the best thing they can do is hire an experienced attorney from Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, as they know everything about the laws that will protect the injured employee, such as the Family Medical Leave Act, the Disabilities Act, and the federal law.
Therefore, it doesn't matter if the employee sustained a permanent injury. They will have someone by their side who will go to war for them and help them file a personal injury claim.