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Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers Comp Claim in Florida?

Every company has their own corporate culture. You may work at a company where everyone enjoys their job and management treats you right. Or you may work at a company where people can’t wait to leave at the end of the day and management treats you terribly. Nothing is worse than always feeling like you could lose your job at any moment. This feeling is even worse if you end up filing a workers comp claim.

Employment lawyers in Florida meet with clients every week who were afraid they were going to be fired simply because they got hurt on the job and because of filing a workers comp claim. They may have worked with employees in the past who were on workers comp only to get fired a week later. Some of our clients are managers who have had to fire people while they were out collecting workers compensation benefits.

It may seem like a terrible thing to do, but unfortunately, it happens every day. Florida is an at-will employment state. What this means is that your employer can fire you at any time, and for any reason. Technically, your employer doesn’t even have to give you a reason for firing you. This rarely happens because most companies are smart enough to come up with a quasi-legitimate reason for terminating an employee. However, it is important to understand that just because you got injured on the job does not mean you’re immune from being fired. 

Our Miami, Florida injury lawyers can certainly review your case and let you know if you have a potential claim for damages. Unfortunately, unless you can prove that you were fired in retaliation for filing a workers comp claim, there may be very little you can do.

Florida is an At-Will State When It Comes to Employment

Like most states, Florida is an at-will state when it comes to employment. What this means is that an employee can quit their job for any reason and at any time. Likewise, companies are allowed to terminate an employee at any time. They don’t need a reason for doing this. 

Unless there’s a specific contract between you and the company you work for, there’s very little you can do if they decide to terminate your employment. Even if you have a contract, all you can do is hire an employment lawyer in Florida to sue for breach of contract. When it comes to filing a workers comp claim, it may seem terrible to think that a company would fire somebody when they’re home and in pain. It seems even worse when the person is out of work because they got hurt on the job. Regardless, as cold as it may seem, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have your job when you’re ready to return to work.

Most Employers Do Not Fire Staff for Filing a Workers Comp Claim

Most employers aren’t foolish enough to fire somebody simply because of filing a workers comp claim. At the same time, companies do need to protect themselves. There are instances where an employee has been written up consistently and can see the writing on the wall. Suddenly, they suffer an injury at work and end up filing a workers comp claim.

Naturally, their employer is going to think that they purposely got hurt to avoid termination. Or they may think that the employee got injured so they could collect workers comp for a few months before having to find a new job. These things do happen all the time. Sadly, this just makes it more difficult for good employees who suffer legitimate workplace accidents.

Most of the time, if a company intends to fire somebody for filing a workers comp claim, they will already have a paper trail documenting that employee’s transgressions. Perhaps you have been written up several times for attendance issues. Your performance evaluations for the last six months may have been poor. It doesn’t take much for an employer to justify their decision to fire somebody. This means that your Miami, Florida injury lawyer would have to meet a very high burden of proof to successfully sue your employer for wrongful termination.

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Your Employer May Fire You Upon Your Return or Shortly Thereafter

What our employment lawyers in Florida typically see are cases where an employee is notified that they are being terminated not after filing a workers comp claim but while they’re home collecting workers comp benefits. They are advised they will continue to receive benefits until they have fully recovered from their injuries. 

They’re also assured that the medical care will continue to be covered by their employer’s insurance company. However, once the employee has reached maximum medical improvement, their benefits will cease, and their claim will be closed. At that time, they will no longer be considered an employee of the firm and they will be officially terminated. 

Sometimes, companies wait until an employee has returned from workers compensation for a few days to fire them. There are many situations in which an employer wanted to fire somebody and before they got around to doing it, the employee suffered a workplace accident. Rather than have it reflect poorly on the company, they decide to pay your benefits and let you go after you return to work.

Your Miami, Florida Injury Lawyer Can Argue Retaliation

There are limited situations in which your Miami, Florida injury lawyer can argue that you were fired in retaliation for getting hurt and filing a workers comp claim. These cases are very difficult to prove. All your employer will have to do is show some documentation justifying their decision to let you go. Since Florida is an at-will state, they may not even need to do this. 

What your employment lawyer in Florida will do is look for any written correspondence, emails, or voice mails in which your employer clearly stated you were being fired because of filing a workers comp claim. The odds of finding this kind of evidence are very low. Sometimes, it’s better to cut your losses and move on.

Your Employment Lawyer in Florida Can Certainly Review Your Case 

If you have a feeling that your company is going to fire you because of filing a workers comp claim, contact our office right away. You can meet with a Miami, Florida injury lawyer and let them review your case. They can even reach out to your employer and get their side of things. 

If they believe you have a strong case for retaliation for filing a workers comp claim, they may be willing to represent you in this matter. If, however, they do not feel you have a legitimate case, they’ll be upfront and honest with you about it.

We suggest you call our office as soon as possible to schedule your free, initial consultation. This way, at least you have the benefit of having an experienced Florida injury lawyer review your case and help you decide how best to proceed.