A workplace accident can be a blow to a worker’s self-esteem, security, and financial stability. Although most employers are careful about providing their workers with a safe and healthy workplace, workplace accidents can still happen.
But there’s one question that any work accident victim may be wondering. Can a worker be fired after a workplace accident? Although there are cases of workers being fired after a workplace accident, an employer can’t fire someone for getting injured in an accident or for filing an injury claim.
If you were hurt on the job, an experienced Nashville workers’ compensation lawyer can help you get the benefits you deserve.
What to Do After a Workplace Accident
Common causes of workplace accidents include slips, trips, and falls, being struck by or against an object, overexertion, and exposure to hazardous materials.
Preventing workplace accidents requires both employers and employees to be proactive. Employers must identify and assess workplace risks and implement control measures. Whereas employees should be educated on how to work safely in their environment.
If you’re hurt in a workplace accident, it is important to report your injury to your manager or supervisor immediately. Under Tennessee law, you generally have 15 calendar days to report a work injury to the employer.
The employer needs to ensure that any injured workers receive medical attention, investigate the cause of the accident, and take steps to prevent it from happening again.
Can an Employee Be Fired After an Accident at Work?
If you’ve been injured at work, you may be worried that you’ve put your employment at risk. The answer is no for most cases, but there are some exceptions. Let’s understand the laws that protect workers in such cases and the exceptions to those laws.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act protects workers from being fired for reporting a workplace injury. Per this law, it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who report injuries or illnesses.
An employee can be terminated for violating safety rules. This is not considered retaliation. Additionally, it’s not illegal to fire an employee for falsifying a report of an injury or illness.
However, if the employee was fired solely for reporting an injury or illness, the termination will be considered unlawful. If other factors, such as poor job performance, were considered in the termination decision, the firing may not be considered illegal retaliation.
If you believe you’ve been illegally terminated for reporting an injury or illness, you can file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the retaliatory action.
It Is Illegal to Fire Someone for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In Tennessee, an employer may not terminate you for reporting a workplace accident or filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation is meant to provide you with the resources you require to return to work as soon as feasible. As a result, Tennessee workers’ compensation payments include medical care and, in certain situations, lost income.
Reasons for Dismissal After a Work Accident
An employer may generally fire an employee only for a legitimate reason. For example, if the employee failed to follow safety procedures or engaged in unsafe behavior, they could be fired.
However, if the accident was not the employee’s fault (for example, if a faulty piece of equipment caused it), or if it was only by accident, the employer can’t fire the employee legally.
There are also some instances where an employer may try to dismiss a worker after an accident to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits (or as retaliation). This is illegal, and any such attempt should be reported to the appropriate authorities.
Whether or not an employee can be legally fired after an accident at work will depend on the case’s specific circumstances. If you believe you were the victim of wrongful termination, you should contact an employment law attorney.
Employer’s Responsibilities After a Workplace Accident
Employers are responsible for ensuring their employees’ safety while they are working. If an accident does occur, they must take appropriate steps to ensure that the employee is taken care of and that the accident is properly documented.
If an employee is injured on the job, their employer should give them first aid and, if necessary, take them to a medical professional.
Workplace Injury Compensation
The employer must also notify your workers’ compensation insurance carrier to begin the claims process.
Prepare a Report
The employer will have to complete an accident report and submit it to the insurance company (and related authorities, if necessary). This report will be used to determine whether or not the accident was work-related and whether or not there were any safety violations involved.
Once the accident has been reported, the employer should follow up to make sure that they are recovering and receiving the necessary care.
The employer must also investigate the accident to determine what caused it and take steps to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Tips for Employees to Stay Safe at Work
We have seen that while there are laws in place to protect workers who are injured on the job, there are also circumstances where an employer can legally terminate an employee.
Employees are required to observe safety measures for their own protection and that of fellow workers, such as:
- Following all safety protocols and procedures
- Using proper safety equipment when working with dangerous materials or in hazardous conditions
- Reporting any unsafe conditions or practices to your supervisor immediately
- Seeking medical attention after an accident (to avoid making the injuries worse)
- Notifying your employer of the accident per their reporting procedures (and so that the safety procedures can be reviewed)
What Happens If You’re Fired for Reporting a Workplace Injury?
Dismissing someone for reporting a workplace accident is unlawful, but it is possible. If you are dismissed for reporting a workplace accident or making a workers’ compensation claim, you may be able to file a wrongful termination case.
If you were wrongfully dismissed, you might be entitled to compensation for lost wages and benefits and damages for emotional distress. Keep in mind that the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation does not handle wrongful termination cases and will not counsel you.
You should contact an employment attorney if you suspect that you were dismissed because you reported a job-related injury or filed a workers’ comp claim.
Get in Touch With a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Nashville
If you have recently been hurt on the job, you should contact our workers’ compensation lawyers in Nashville. Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be complicated, and we are here to guide you through the process.
If you were denied workers’ compensation benefits, one of our attorneys can review your case and help you determine your options. We can help you if the insurance company or employer denied you benefits unfairly.
Reach out to us now for a free initial consultation!