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Can You File for Workers’ Comp if You’re Fired or Quit Your Job?

There are moments in life when timing is everything. The problem with filing a workers’ compensation claim after you are terminated is not so much a matter of strict eligibility, but of appearances. Let’s start with an example.

A worker suffers an on-the-job slip and fall. He doesn’t think much of it at the time and fails to report the incident. A day or so later, he is finally fed up with poor working conditions, and quits. His back gets steadily worse, until he finally sees a doctor, who sends him for an MRI that reveals a disk injury due to the fall. Can this now-former employee file for workers’ comp?

Certainly, he may file a claim, because this is a work-related injury and he was covered by workers’ comp at the time of the fall. But it looks very bad. Since he never reported the incident, he will have a difficult time proving a fall at work caused the injury. Perhaps coworkers saw him fall, and they can testify to the fact. But the insurance company will insist that some other incident, not related to work and perhaps post-termination, caused the injury. They will assert that he is unemployed, ineligible for unemployment benefits because he quit, and is looking to ease his financial problems by collecting workers’ comp.

The situation would be slightly better if the man had been fired and was eligible for unemployment insurance, but he would still have the problem of proving causation. If he could show that his boss fired him in anticipation of his filing a workers’ comp claim, it might strengthen his case.

An important point to remember is that employees should always report on-the-job accidents promptly to lay the groundwork for a possible claim later on. Accidents can happen anywhere, so if you begin complaining about a sore back but didn’t report your fall, the boss is likely to suspect you had an accident at home that you want to cash in on.

To learn more about your workers’ compensation eligibility, consult a knowledgeable Orange County attorney at the Tous Law Group. Call 714-602-4473 or contact our office online to schedule a free consultation.

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