Can I Still Receive My Benefits?
The short answer to the above question is yes. An injured worker is entitled to benefits regardless of whether or not she is still working for the employer. With some caveats. If an employee is injured on the job, files a claim, and the insurance carrier starts providing medical benefits, the employment status with the employer will not affect the medical treatment. If an injured worker leaves the employer due to retirement, better employment, termination, or due to the company going under, the medical treatment will continue, baring any other extenuating circumstances.
The real question is whether or not an injured worker will still be entitled to indemnity, or missed wage benefits once she leaves employment. The answer to this question could depend on how and why the employment ended. Entitlement to Temporary Total Disability, the benefits you receive while on a no work status will continue as long as you remain on a no work status, regardless of why you left the job. However, the Temporary Partial Disability, or “light duty” indemnity benefits may be affected by your loss of employment.
Entitlement to the Temporary Partial Disability benefits, or those missed mage benefits that you are receiving due to being on a light duty work status may rest on how and why your employment ended. Some employers have a certain amount of time that an employee can be out due to restrictions, receiving indemnity, before their employment is terminated. For example, Company A has a policy that an injured worker can be out for six months due to no job being available within the doctor’s restrictions, before the employer can no longer hold the job open. In this scenario, your indemnity benefits would continue after employment.
What if I quit my job? You may still be entitled to indemnity benefits. According to Dubreuil’s Florida Workers’ Compensation Handbook, the law previously allowed a carrier to suspend Temporary Partial Disability benefits if you voluntarily left your employment. On October 1, 2003, the Florida Legislature amended this law to essentially state that if a Claimant leaves the job, without just cause, the Claimant would be entitled to only those benefits that would have been due and owing, had the Claimant remained with the employer. The key in this scenario is that you must voluntarily leave and without just cause. Typically, the “just cause” caveat will be determined on a case by case basis.
The next big issue when it comes to entitlement to Temporary Partial Disability benefits is when an injured worker is dismissed for misconduct. Too frequently, an injured employee’s indemnity benefits are suspended due to being terminated. Just because you are terminated from your employment, does not necessarily mean that you are not entitled to indemnity benefits. In order for your dismissal to count against you, as far as continued entitlement to indemnity benefits is concerned, you must have been dismissed for misconduct. In order for the carrier to deem earnings, the misconduct in question must meet the statutory definition.
Florida Statute §440.02(16) states that misconduct includes: conduct evincing such willful or wanton disregard of an employer’s interest as is found in deliberate violation or disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of the employee; or carelessness or negligence of such a degree or recurrence as to manifest culpability, wrongful intent, or evil design, or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of an employers interests or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of an employer’s interests or of the employee’s duties and obligations to the employer.
There are many questions that have to be answered if you leave your employment that will determine whether or not your indemnity benefits will continue. Did you retire? Where you fired for cause? Did the company go out of business? Were you fired for misconduct? Did you voluntarily leave the position, unjustly? Are you voluntarily limiting your own income? The law is extremely complex, especially when it comes to entitlement to indemnity benefits.
Throughout Mr. Masnikoff’s career, he has represented numerous injured workers who have had to leave their employment for one reason or another and have had their indemnity benefits cut off. If you or a loved believe that your missed wage benefits have been unjustly terminated, or are receiving benefits and thinking about leaving your employment but have questions regarding your ongoing benefits, we would love to discuss your case and explain all of your options to make sure that you receive everything that you are entitled to. Please give us a call at (877) 817-4127 or visit our website.
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