Terminated on Workers’ Compensation

Attorney Blog

construction helmetAdding Insult to Injury

The bad news: you’ve been injured at work.  What’s worse: you’ve just been terminated.

One common question we receive from employees injured at work is whether you can be fired while on workers’ compensation. The short answer is, unless you have an employment contract or are protected by FMLA, yes, you can be terminated on workers’ compensation. In Illinois, most employees are at-will, meaning you can be terminated at any time for any reason, so long as it is not prohibited by law.  While an employer can’t fire an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim, an employee doesn’t have a wrongful termination claim simply because they were terminated while on workers’ compensation.

How does termination affect the status your workers’ compensation claim? Barring very few exceptions, your right to benefits remains the same. This is true regardless of whether you’re terminated through no fault of your own, or for misconduct or even willful violation of company rules. You are still entitled to workers’ comp weekly wages, at 2/3 of your average weekly wage, as long as you’re off work or on restrictions your employer can’t accommodate.  Your employer is also responsible for payment of 100% of your medical benefits until you’re released from your doctor’s care.

The reason the law operates in this manner is because workers’ comp is designed to help employees injured at work recover from their injuries with the assistance of their employer.  Your employer is responsible for paying the weekly wages and your medical bills because you were injured at work, not based on your status as an employee throughout the duration of your claim.  Just think: if employers were permitted to stop paying benefits as soon as an injured employee is no longer with the company, it would give less scrupulous employers motivation to find reasons to terminate injured workers to escape financial liability.  So while the law doesn’t necessarily prevent your employer from terminating you, it does protect your benefits in the event it occurs.

What happens if you voluntarily resign, accept other employment, or simply quit showing up for work?  If your employer is paying your weekly wages while you’re off work, or accommodating your light duty restrictions, your employer’s obligation to pay weekly benefits ends.  However, under any of these scenarios, your employer is still obligated to pay your medical benefits until you are released from your doctor’s care.

So what should you do if you’ve been injured at work and are concerned about being fired or are thinking about quitting your job?  Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans Law Offices today to discuss what we can do to ensure your benefits are protected.


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I was referred to Woodruff, Johnson & Evans by a friend after a work related car accident. The workmen comp adjuster was giving me the run around. I was having terrible back pain but because it was work related my doctors could not provide me the treatment I need. Jay Johnson began investigating my case […]

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Russ was the best! I got his number from my cousin. Best phone call I ever made! Always there for anything I needed and got all my bills paid and some compensation for me! Highly recommend.

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I can’t say enough about Jon Walker. He took my case after being denied. Told me everything I had to do and kept me calm during the wait and got me approved! If you want a professional lawyer who knows how to get you approved call WOODRUFF JOHNSON & EVANS I cannot thank you enough […]

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Russ Haugen helped me far beyond what I expected. He was polite and communicated with me every step of the way. Thank you for everything!

Mikahl S

I really felt like I had an ally!

Jon Walker represented me in a Work Comp case. I really felt like I had an ally and someone who was going to protect me and my rights after I was injured at work. Jon was extremely attentive and available to me when I had questions or needed advice throughout the entire process. Also, Jon […]

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I had a lawyer working on my insurance claim that was extremely unprofessional and after 8 months of getting nowhere, I fired him. Dexter Evans was recommended to me by a family member. He was extremely professional and made the insurance claim very easy for me. He was very informative and always got back to […]

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I am forever Grateful for this Firm. Steven Sandler stayed on top of my auto accident. I was kept informed on every thing. They were there for me and I will be sure to recommend them. Thank you!!!

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¡Estaba muy satisfecho con los resultados!

¡Estaba muy satisfecho con los resultados! Mi abogado, Jay Johnson, me explicó el proceso para que entendiera lo que estaba sucediendo con mi caso. Estaba muy satisfecho con los resultados y recomendaría a mi familia y amigos que necesitan ayuda legal que vayan a Woodruff Johnson & Evans.

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