Getting hurt at work is a worst-case scenario for most employees. After all, injured workers often can’t stay on the job. That can mean lost income. Even if you do receive workers’ compensation, you will only receive a portion of your average wages, not your wages in full. This can have a profound impact on your budget, especially if your injury results in long-term disability.
Sadly, many employers are skeptical of, or angry toward, workers who file workers’ compensation claims. In some cases, workers who legitimately get hurt on the job end up facing discrimination or retaliation from their employers for connecting with the benefits that they deserve. Employers know that retaliation against workers’ compensation claimants is illegal, but some of them continue to engage in the practice, anyway.
Workers’ compensation insurance exist for a reason
Before there were state requirements for employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance, injured employees were often left in terrible financial situations. Even in cases where employer negligence or unsafe working condition directly contributed to the injury, they would have to shoulder all the costs related to the injury and face a future where holding a job was difficult or impossible.
In some cases, they would no longer have medical insurance after their injury, if they ever had it to begin with. In others, they would be permanently unable to return to work. Some people who died in work-related injuries left behind dependent family members who had no way to earn an income and who received no compensation for the loss of their loved one.
Workers’ compensation helps ensure that anyone who ends up hurt or disabled as the result of a job doesn’t incur medical debt as a result and has the right to disability benefits, as well as potential retraining opportunities to help ensure their accident does not result in permanent indigence.
Fear of retaliation should not keep you from your benefits
While it is true that a workplace injury that results in a workers’ compensation claim costs your employer money, it costs the you, as the victim, money as well. You will have to suffer the financial consequences of that injury, including the percentage of your wages not covered by workers’ compensation. There are also likely long-term consequences on your quality of life that result from that injury.
Your employer may have to pay a slightly higher premium for their workers’ compensation insurance, but that is no reason to penalize you. If your employer has fired you or reprimanded you in any way for seeking the benefits you deserve, you have the legal right to assert yourself. Better familiarizing yourself with your rights as a worker, including the right to be free from retaliation, could help you determine what your next, best step should be.