Getting injured on the job is a stressful situation, and often leads to numerous pressing questions regarding medical costs. During uncertain economic times and periods of high unemployment, especially due to COVID-19, we get frequent questions from workers who get laid off, furloughed, or terminated while they have an active workers’ compensation claim. Here, we help you understand the legalities around losing a job while on workers’ compensation, and if you have the legal right to assume these benefits after a job loss. 

If you’re wondering whether COVID-19 is covered by workers’ comp in Florida, read our post on that topic.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Florida

Workers’ compensation may provide compensation to those who are eligible because they have been injured or become ill at work. It may cover medical expense relief, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs to ensure you fully recover. 

To file for workers’ compensation, you must visit a healthcare professional as soon as possible, so a doctor can provide correct documentation to support your claim. In Florida, all documentation must be submitted within 30 days of the injury to be eligible for benefits. Once the claim is filed and approved, you will receive compensation payments to ensure you can fully recover before you return to work.

Can I be Laid Off or Fired While on Workers’ Compensation? 

Receiving workers’ compensation does not make you immune to layoffs. In a right-to-work state like Florida, a company has the right to lay you off, however this doesn’t impact your workers’ compensation benefits. That being said, it is illegal for a company to lay someone off as a result of injury or temporary disability.

Being fired while on workers’ compensation is also allowed, so long as it is not caused by termination:

  • Out of retaliation
  • Because you are temporarily disabled and can’t work
  • Because your employer doesn’t want to provide you benefits

A company can legally terminate you with just cause for disciplinary reasons, despite you being on workers’ compensation.

If I am Laid Off or Fired, Will I Still Receive my Workers’ Comp Benefits?

The general answer is yes. However, each situation may be more complex. 

In some cases, you may be laid off due to financial strain on the company. If the company remains in business, but you are laid off while on workers’ compensation, your benefits should remain the same after the layoff. The company must still comply and their insurance should pay reasonable expenses deemed necessary by a medical professional. The same is true if you are fired. It does not matter if you are a current employee or not, if your claim was opened and approved prior to being laid off or fired, your company’s insurance must still pay.

What if I Have Been Laid off after Returning to Work, but am Still on Workers’ Compensation Restrictions Deemed Necessary by my Doctor? 

Most likely, your workers’ compensation benefits will be reinstated, because your restrictions show you weren’t able to fully heal. It can be assumed that if you are still on work restrictions, you wouldn’t be able to fully return to work at any other job, thus justifying the reinstatement of your full workers’ compensation benefits.

Can I File a Claim After Being Laid off or Fired?

If you have an open workers’ compensation claim that has been approved and processed, and are laid off or fired, you still have the right to your workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, it is important to note that you are still able to file a workers’ compensation claim after being terminated or laid off. Often, it can be hard to prove that your current temporary disability was caused by a job. This is where hiring a workers’ compensation attorney can improve your odds of success in the courtroom.

When Should You Hire a Workers’ Comp Attorney? 

While an employer can legally lay you off or fire you with just cause while on workers’ compensation, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney that specializes in workers’ comp cases if you feel as though you are being targeted for retaliation due to your status. 

In addition, if you have been laid off, but are no longer receiving benefits, it is imperative to consult with a lawyer to see if it is time to build a case. Your attorney will help you determine your eligibility and what your workers’ comp benefits may be worth, as well as the best way to pursue your claim or case in court.