The unfortunate truth is that there is no specific law that says a Georgia employer cannot fire a worker after an injury or workers’ compensation claim. This can make it difficult for workers who get hurt to continue to make a living, and seems essentially unfair. But a business’s ability to let a worker go after an injury is limited. There are ways workers can fight to keep their job or most importantly, receive their workers’ compensation benefits even after they are let go. If you were fired after an injury and your employer does not want to give you your workers’ compensation benefits, contact the experienced Augusta workers’ compensation attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. to learn about your rights.
At Will Employment
Georgia law recognizes at will employment. Any employee who does not have a contract stating otherwise can be let go for almost any reason at any time. The only time a business cannot simply let someone go is if the worker has an employment contract with specific terms of duration and dismissal or if the dismissal was based on an illegal reason, like discrimination. Many employees sign paperwork when they are hired, but if they read closely, it will say that the work is at will employment based on state law. Ultimately, you can be fired for a good, bad, or no reason.
If you were let go after an injury or filing a workers’ compensation claim, your next step is to see why you were let go. It can be difficult to fight being fired because of at will employment, but it is possible your employer crossed a line by firing you for seeking something you have a legal right to such as workers’ compensation leave or benefits. If you suspect that the basis of your dismissal was illegal, call a workers’ compensation attorney right away.
What Was the Basis of the Termination?
If possible, ask your employer for the reason of your dismissal in writing. Once you have the reason in writing, even if it is just an email, you can consider whether there is evidence to support it. For instance, if you are fired for continuously being late to work, and you have been late on multiple occasions, you may not have a strong basis for seeking workers’ compensation after your dismissal.
However, if the basis for your firing was related to your permanent or long-term disability that was created by a work-related injury, you may have a case for discrimination based on disability.
If the reason is without basis at all, and you believe the true reason was retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you may be able to take your employer to court in order to receive your workers’ compensation benefits. Georgia does not have a specific cause of action for retaliation, but you may have a right to your benefits following your dismissal, which can help you recover and get back on your feet.
Your rights after being fired can be confusing. Did they have a right to fire you? Can you sue? Can you get workers’ compensation, disability, or unemployment benefits? The attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. can answer all of your questions and explain your various options.
Receiving Workers’ Compensation After You Are Fired
Your workers’ compensation benefits do not necessary stop when you are let go. You may still have a right to benefits even if you were fired before you could start receiving them. If you were fired at a time when your physician said you were totally or somewhat restricted from working, then you are still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. You will only be entitled to benefits until you are able to find work – even if it is for a lower wage.
If your benefits never started or they stopped once you were fired, call an attorney right away. You may have to head to court to get your benefits back or to see if you are eligible for unemployment or disability benefits.
For a catastrophic accident, which means you are unable to perform your previous work or substantially similar work, you are entitled to two-thirds of your average weekly salary and medical and rehabilitation benefits for as long as you cannot return to work. For a non-catastrophic injury, you are entitled to two-thirds of your average weekly salary while you are disabled but only up to 400 weeks. Benefits begin once you miss more than seven consecutive days of work and should still start after you are let go. Your employer may contest you receiving benefits, so be prepared to fight for you rights.
Whether or not you continue to receive your benefits may depend on your supplying the correct information and attempting a job your physician says you are ready to perform. If it appears that you are not attempting to find work or will not accept work that you are capable of performing, then your benefits may be stopped.
Social Security Disability Benefits
If you have a long-term or permanent disability, you should look into Social Security Disability benefits. You are entitled to SSD if you worked at a business covered by Social Security and if your condition meets Social Security’s definition of disability. An experienced attorney can help you understand if you are covered by SSD, and if so, when you can apply for monthly benefits.
While SSD may not cover the same amount as workers’ compensation, it can help you and your family pay your medical and other bills while you recover and find work.
Call Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. for Help
If you were let go after suffering a work-related injury or after filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should call the dedicated Augusta workers’ compensation lawyers at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. right away. They will talk to you about your situation to determine whether your termination was legal and whether you have the right to continued workers’ compensation benefits.