People who have been injured on the job have a lot to deal with — recovering from their injuries, trying to return to work, and getting by on income that is probably less than they were making before their workplace accident. Fearing that their employer will fire them because they made a workers’ compensation claim is the last thing injured workers should have to worry about. But a new study shows injured workers fear just that, and it affects their recovery.

Making a workers’ compensation claim is a right, and in most states it is illegal for an employer to fire someone or retaliate against them for making a claim. Under South Carolina law, the process provides broad protection for work-related injuries under a no-fault system that provides coverage even if the injury was not caused by an employer’s negligence.

But that doesn’t stop injured workers from being fearful they will be punished or fired for exercising their rights. A study of injured workers by the Workers Compensation Research Institute in eight states found that fear can hinder recovery, making it even harder for injured workers to return to their job. The study was titled “Predictors of Worker Outcomes.”

Fear of Being Fired

The study, which consisted of interviews with 3,200 injured workers three years after their injuries, asked the workers if they were concerned about being fired because of their injury.

Findings from the study include:

  • Individuals who were very concerned about losing their jobs after having a workplace injury had a worse record with returning to work than did people who were not concerned about getting fired.
  • A fifth of the workers who feared being fired said they were not working when the survey was conducted. Only a tenth of workers who said they were not concerned about getting fired were not working when they were interviewed for the study.
  • The average length of disability for workers who feared being fired was four weeks longer than workers without those concerns.

The Workers Compensation Research Institute, in announcing the findings, stated that it hopes the results will lead to better outcomes for injured workers and help public officials, employers and medical providers improve the treatment and communication an injured worker receives after an injury.

Seek Legal Help to Protect Your Right to Workers’ Compensation

Injured workers should not fear retaliation if they make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina. If an employer fires you or takes other adverse actions in the workplace because of your workers’ comp claim, you may have legal recourse in addition to your workers’ comp claim.

It is important to work with an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney who can help you stand up for your right to receive the benefits you deserve without fearing that you will lose your job or face negative consequences at work.

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About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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