If your employer fires you in retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim or for a false reason that you feel is disguised retaliation, consult an attorney right away. There may be remedies available to you within the workers’ comp system or in civil court.

Termination After Your Workers' Compensation Claim Is Approved

Once your workers’ comp claim is approved by your employer’s insurance company and you begin collecting benefits, you could lose your job or be laid off for legitimate reasons before you’ve fully recovered. If you’re an at-will employee with no contract, you might be legally terminated if your employer: 

  • Goes out of business
  • Files bankruptcy
  • Restructures or downsizes and eliminates your position

In such a case, your termination wouldn’t be related to your workers’ compensation claim. If your position is essential to your company’s staying in business, someone might have to be hired to do your job since you can’t—so your position might no longer be available to you when you’re ready to resume work. Even if you do have a contract, it might list circumstances under which you can be legally terminated.

If your employer can’t offer you your previous position or a light-duty job that accommodates your restrictions, then you might not have a job once your benefits run out. Losing your job or being laid off for such reasons should not, however, affect your workers’ comp benefits, which are provided by the insurance company to which your employer has already paid premiums to cover work-related injuries. Once your claim is approved, you should receive the benefits you’ve been awarded until you recover. The only possible exceptions are:

  • Termination or layoff for disciplinary reasons
  • Reaching MMI before you were legally terminated

An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine whether you’ve been laid off or fired for reasons that could affect your benefits.

Quitting Your Job While Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Once your claim is accepted and you’re receiving workers’ comp benefits, you could decide you don’t want to return to your old job after you recover. You might:

  • Feel unsafe in the workplace
  • Fear another injury
  • Fear a retaliatory attitude on the part of your superiors
  • Have a better job offer you want to accept

Whatever your reason for resigning, it shouldn’t affect your workers’ compensation benefits any more than being fired would. Your benefits are based on an injury/illness that occurred in the past, so your current/future job status has no effect on them. You should be able to collect the benefits you were granted until you recover. There are, however, a couple of exceptions:

  • If you’re getting weekly disability benefits and are offered a light-duty job that accommodates your medical restrictions, your benefits can be terminated if you refuse that job.
  • If your doctors feel you’re not likely to return to work again, and you have an unsettled claim for total permanent disability, quitting your job before the claim is settled puts your employer in a position to say you could’ve been accommodated with a light-duty job if you hadn’t quit. This could affect your claim.

If you’re considering quitting, here are some tips to keep in mind: 

  • If you intend to return to work for another employer, don’t leave your current job until you’re offered a new one.
  • Unless you have a new job opportunity that won’t wait, don’t quit your current job before reaching MMI.
  • If you have an open disability claim, don’t leave your current job until the claim is settled.
  • Don’t be in a hurry to settle your claim, especially without consulting an attorney. Doing so gives the insurance company a reason to offer you a low award that might not cover your current and future medical expenses.
  • If you take a lower-paying job while still receiving benefits, inform your attorney right away. You might have a chance of getting partial reimbursement for the difference between your former and current salaries.
  • If you can’t perform the new job you’ve taken, you might be able to get your disability benefits reinstated.

Have You Been Injured On The Job?

If you've been hurt at your job you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our ConwayMyrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.


Dirk J. Derrick
Connect with me
South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.