You suffered a serious injury on the job, filed for workers’ comp, and have been off work recovering ever since. Now that your doctor released you to return to work, you find that your job no longer exists.
If your position was eliminated or you were replaced in the time you've been unable to work, you may wonder if your employer’s actions were legal. How could you lose your job while recovering from an injury you acquired on the job? Unfortunately, as unfair as it may seem, it's usually legal.
At-Will Employment in Ohio
You might be aware before an injury that your employment in Ohio is “at will.” This means you can be fired for any reason—including no reason. Your employer may have replaced you because work needed to be done, and he or she needed someone to do it. Your company may have made cost cuts and eliminated your position. Your boss may not even give you a reason for letting you go, and he would be within his legal rights.
What Will Happen to Your Workers’ Comp Benefits?
If you were cleared to return to work by your doctor with no restrictions, but you no longer have the job, your temporary total disability benefits will stop. But you may be eligible for other compensation. Plus, the claim itself is still open. Workers’ compensation is not unemployment insurance. Rather, it's insurance that covers medical costs and lost wages during an on-the-job injury or work-related illness.
However, if your doctor releases you to light duty or modified work and you no longer have a job to return to, you may still be eligible for wage loss benefits. You have to actively search for an appropriate job to get these benefits.
Let an Ohio Workers’ Compensation Attorney Help You
While Ohio employers can fire workers “at will,” they cannot fire someone in retaliation for filing for workers’ compensation. If you suspect this caused your job loss—or you just need help figuring out whether you're eligible to continue collecting benefits after losing your job—contact my office in Upper Arlington. I also offer a free book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio to help you understand your rights.