If you quit your job while your workers’ compensation claim is pending, you might greatly complicate your claim under certain circumstances. It is not a foregone conclusion that you will lose any of your benefits, however, because there is more than one situation in which your employer might remain liable for full workers’ compensation benefits even after you quit your job.
Your medical benefits are likely to remain unaffected by quitting your job, as long as they arose from a workplace accident that occurred before you quit. You might, for example, need continuing medical treatment. If, on the other hand, you quit your job first and then file a workers’ compensation claim without having reported your injury before you quit, you can expect stiff resistance to your claim.
Wage Replacement Benefits
Wage replacement benefits, typically two-thirds of your average weekly wages for the 13 weeks immediately prior to your accident, are the portion of workers’ compensation benefits that are most likely to be affected if you quit your job. Your employer may argue that since you voluntarily quit your job, you have voluntarily sacrificed the wages you would have otherwise received and therefore there is no need to replace them. This argument will not work in all cases, however.
Quitting your job because of your disability should not raise any unusual suspicions or cause you any particular problems (other than the normal resistance to any workers’ compensation claim), if indeed you can no longer perform your previous duties and your examining doctors agree that you are permanently disabled. If you switch to an equally demanding job, however, you will raise questions about whether you were ever permanently disabled in the first place.
If you quit your job because your disability prevents you from returning to your old position, and if your new job offers you light duty compared to your previous position but pays you less, your old employer will still likely to remain obligated to your you wage replacement benefits on the difference in wages between your old job and your new job. It might be different if your employer offered you light duty before you quit and you refused.
If You Haven’t Quit Your Job Yet
If you are merely considering quitting your job and are simply wondering about the consequences you may suffer if you do, consider the following:
- If possible, it is best to wait until after your workers’ comp claim has been settled before you quit your job. Although it is possible that your employer may seek to reopen your case if you quit (and thereby re-negotiate your settlement), your employer is less likely to bother to dispute your claim than it would be if you quit before your claim was settled.
- If you can’t wait until your claim is settled, try to wait at least until your doctor has certified that you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) — the point at which your condition has improved as much as it is ever going to. You often need to wait until MMI before you can properly calculate the value of your claim — a prerequisite to settlement.
Make It Happen
If you find yourself involved in a workers’ compensation dispute, or if you anticipate such a dispute arising, bitter disappointment might wait you unless you secure the services of a skilled and experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer.
Raleigh workers’ compensation attorney John A. Hedrick has been certified as a Specialist in North Carolina workers’ compensation law since 2003, and his successful track record speaks for itself. Call our office at 919-626-3895, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our online contact form to schedule a free claim evaluation.