Can I Be Fired For Hiring A Lawyer After A Work Injury?
This is a question we are frequently asked. To be legalistic and technical, the answer is no. In truth, no employer that intends to fire you for hiring a lawyer is going to call you in and say: “We are firing you because you hired a lawyer for your workers’ compensation claim.”
If you are injured on the job, you have a right to certain benefits through workers’ compensation. You are entitled to any and all medical care to treat your injury. If you lose money due to your injury, you are entitled to weekly benefits. These rights are no different than the rights that you have to be paid for your time and to be treated fairly in the workplace.
A company that intends to respect your rights won’t care if you hire a lawyer, since the lawyer can only help you get benefits to which you are entitled. What an experienced lawyer brings to your claim is the knowledge of the workers’ compensation system and how to navigate your claim through the system to make sure that you are fairly treated. Matters such as selecting a medical doctor that cares about his patients, getting treatment for all of the injuries you suffered and making sure you are properly paid for lost earnings are the things with which a lawyer can help.
Usually people are afraid to hire a lawyer for their workers’ compensation claim, because their employer has projected a negative attitude about injuries and claims. Some companies tie management bonuses to the number and kind of injuries that occur under management’s watch. The result of this type of bonus is management tries to avoid reporting injuries and tries to keep treatment and payment for injuries as low as possible. Your rights are being taken away because to management a bonus is more important than the rights of an injured worker. If this is the attitude of your employer, then you need to hire an attorney to protect your rights since you will not be provided protection through the company.
An effective workers’ compensation attorney will push for the treatment that you need. For example, we represented an injured worker who had lost all the fingers of his left hand. After his injuries healed enough to permit a prothesis, the insurance company’s solution was to provide our client with rubber fingers that more or less looked like fingers, but which provided no practical use. We secured a mechanical hand for our client which permits him use of his injured hand. Although the insurance company did not initially agree we got it for him anyway. Without an attorney, he would not have had any use of his hand.
An effective workers’ compensation attorney will also make sure that you are correctly paid weekly benefits. Often insurance companies do not accurately calculate your earnings that result in a loss of anywhere from a few dollars per week to a hundred dollars per week. Insurance companies do not always pay timely. When checks are late, penalties are due. These are matters an attorney can monitor to make sure you are fairly treated.