Can I Quit While On Workers’ Comp?
Can I quit while on workers’ comp? What will happen to my benefits if I do? These are common questions we hear as workers’ compensation attorneys.
Like many questions involving workers’ comp law, the answer is complicated. Let’s break it down.
Keep reading to learn how quitting your job while on workers’ comp could affect your benefits.
What Benefits Workers’ Comp Offers
Before we talk about how quitting your job affects workers’ comp, we need to outline what benefits are available.
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that covers qualifying employees who are injured or disabled on the job. Workers’ comp provides the following main benefits. (We go more into depth on workers’ comp benefits in a previous blog post.)
- Medical care to treat the injury or illness (doctor visits, tests, prescriptions, procedures, etc.)
- Wage replacement income
- Compensation for any permanent injuries
- Survivor’s benefits for the family of workers killed on the job
What Happens to My Workers’ Comp Benefits If I Quit?
When it comes to quitting your job while on workers’ comp, some benefits are affected and others are not.
If you quit your job while on workers’ comp, medical benefits may continue. This includes the costs for medical care you need to treat your on-the-job injury or occupational illness. Workers’ comp may still cover your doctor visits, hospital stays, diagnostic tests, prescriptions, rehabilitation costs, and other medical expenses, for example.
Wage Replacement & Temporary Total Disability
If your injury or illness prevents you from returning to work, Ohio calls this “temporary total disability.” (Basically, you can’t continue your previous work because of a disabling injury, but you’ll be able to return to work eventually.)
In addition to medical benefits, temporary total disability (TTD) benefits include wage loss benefits. Wage loss benefits replace a portion of your income, beginning after you miss 7 days of work due to injury.
Unfortunately, quitting your job while on workers’ comp can end wage replacement benefits. By quitting, you give up your right to continue receiving wage replacement. What’s more, in some situations, quitting can give your employer a defense to deny you TTD benefits entirely.
For example, your employer might offer you “light duty” as an alternative to temporary total disability. If your employer offers you a modified job that complies with your medical restrictions, refusing that job may make you ineligible for TTD.
In addition, the timing of your exit from work might also affect your eligibility for TTD benefits.
In a 2018 court case (Klein v. Precision Excavating & Grading Co.), the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that an employee who voluntarily quits for reasons unrelated to their workplace injury becomes ineligible for temporary total disability compensation.
The case involved a man who gave notice to leave his company and was injured at work before his final work day. The worker carried through with his plans to quit and move while filing for workers’ comp benefits. The company fought his claim by arguing he voluntarily abandoned employment. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed that the worker could not receive any TTD benefits.
Why You Should Talk to an Attorney Before Quitting
If possible, it’s often a good idea to talk to an attorney before quitting your job. (This is especially true if you expect to need TTD compensation.) A knowledgeable attorney will let you know how your benefits might be affected in your unique case.
You might decide that you’re better off waiting to quit until your workers’ comp claim is over. You might decide to quit or change jobs anyway! Either way, knowing the facts will help you make an informed decision that’s right for you.
What to Do If Your Employer Retaliates
In some cases, benefits stop as a natural consequence of quitting or changing jobs.
In other cases, however, employers engage in retaliatory practices to avoid paying benefits. Employers might refuse to pay benefits or fire the injured worker. They might offer a “light duty” job in bad faith—like a job that isn’t legitimate work or is an unreasonably far drive.
This kind of retaliation is illegal.
If this happens to you, a workers’ comp lawyer can help you understand your rights and options. An experienced attorney can help you hold your employer accountable and fight for the benefits you need.
Call Casper & Casper Today
Our firm’s workers’ comp lawyers are dedicated, knowledgeable, and experienced—and here to help you.
For help with workers’ comp claims, contact Casper & Casper for a free consultation. We have offices in Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Middletown for your convenience.