(US law and generally) Work injuries can create tension among employers and employees, but the situation usually is dependent on the employment relationship. Workers employed by an employer that does not divert responsibilities are usually still in good graces if the employee is allowed to work on light duty. Most employers do not have any “light duty” workers unless they are office positions. In most cases, it is not a good idea to continue working while injured. It is important to remember that the employment market allows employers to make all decisions on employment on an “at-will” basis of the employer.
What is the “At Will” System?
Individuals that own a business have the authority to make any and all business decisions at their own discretion. According to our Allentown injury lawyer, the business owner has great latitude unless an employee is hired under an individual or union contract. Union contracts establish parameters for employers in terms of equitable treatment. In addition, discrimination laws can also apply in many cases. Any violations in these areas can make an employer vulnerable to negligence lawsuits as well as responsibility for compensatory damages for any on-duty injury.
Workers Compensation Insurance
Valid employers normally do not want an injured worker to continue working unless the employee is released by a doctor. This responsibility does not stop for employers choosing to carry their own protection by solvency. The actual employer is determined by the party required to pay the workers compensation insurance premium or qualify for individual solvency. It is important to know your actual employer and their insurance status. Always make sure any on-duty injury is properly reported and documented and seek medical attention of some type, regardless of severity. These are crucial documents in establishing material evidence of any injury that may result in a court case. An injured worker could be terminated if there is no way to establish location. Be sure to file the injury and get a copy of any pertinent paper work when possible, including medical records.
Self-employment and Work-related Injuries
This is an area that can easily be legally problematic. Any worker that is self-employed should carry their own compensation insurance if necessary. It is a protection and is more important than many individuals realize. Being self-employed is effective for many people, but it is never a good idea to work without being an established business of some type. Self-employed workers that are licensed and bonded should be legally established, including a current business license. Most states require individuals who are validly self-employed to carry workers compensation insurance on themselves. Other issues of employer negligence still have a legal remedy, such as punitive damages for a contractor who may be operating illegally or violating safety regulations. Responsibility for an injury does not exclude other contracted parties from all responsibilities, but the injured worker can rest assured that the claim will be contested. Work-related injury responsibilities are usually the reason most employers use this business model.
Doctors will normally not release a patient until they are certain the injury is fully healed, so working injured is not always an option. The short answer to the question is yes, there are cases where an employee will be in jeopardy of termination due to a work-related injury. Working under an oral agreement is not a good idea because the threshold for enforcement is normally $500 and a contractor needs no reason to replace a worker. Luckily, there are still some legal remedies, but workers should always be aware of the ultimate “at-will” basis of the employment market.
Chris Bennett is a legal researcher and contributing author for an Allentown injury lawyer. Injury law is a complex arena and understanding your rights to recover compensation may be difficult to understand. If you are looking for a injury attorney, the Philadelphia injury lawyers of McMahon, McMahon & Lentz are experienced and well versed in all manners of injury law.