Atticus offers free, high-quality workers' compensation advice to those injured at work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and help thousands of Americans get the benefits they deserve each year.
Employees have a right to workers' compensation after an injury or illness that occurs in their workplace. That's true even if they get fired, quit, or resign. Benefits also continue after someone leave their job. Read on to learn how leaving a job can impact someone's eligibility for workers’ comp.
Can you file for workers’ comp after leaving your job?
Yes, you can file after leaving your job and you can file for workers’ compensation with a former employer.
Generally speaking, as long as you notified your employer within the required time frame, you're entitled to workers’ comp benefits. It doesn't matter if you left your job because workers' comp insurance is based on your employment status at the time of your injury.
Legally, an employer cannot fire you because you got injured or because you filed a workers’ comp claim.
An exception is if your injury was the result of breaking clear rules or safety protocols at work, like consuming alcohol during work hours or operating machinery without permission.
Every state except Montana has at-will employment laws, meaning your company can terminate your employment at any time for any reason. At-will employment doesn't allow for discrimination retaliation for filing a workers' comp claim. Contact an employment lawyer if you believe you have a wrongful termination case.
You can still collect workers’ comp benefits if your employer fires you, terminates your employment, or forces you to resign after a workplace injury.
If you already started getting benefits before you left, your payments and medical coverage should continue without any changes. The benefits are paid by your former employer’s insurance company, so it doesn’t matter if you stop working there.
If you haven’t started receiving workers' comp before leaving your job, it is essential to do the following:
Prove the injury happened at work before you leave. In addition to medical treatment records, witness statements and video footage of the workplace incident can strengthen your case when applying for workers’ comp benefits. If
Notify your employer within the time frame. You're only eligible for workers' comp if you report the injury to your employer before your state's reporting deadline. The deadline varies by state and you may only have a few days. Regardless of almost anything else, you will lose the right to benefits if you don't report the incident soon enough.
File a claim within the time frame. If you're eligible for workers' comp benefits but you haven't filed a claim yet, make sure to do so before the statute of limitations for filing has passed. Most states give you at least one year from the injury date. If you're having a difficult time getting a former employer to help you file, you may need to file a claim yourself.
What happens if you get fired while on workers’ comp?
If you get fired when you’re already on workers’ comp, you should continue to receive your payments and medical coverage. After the insurance company approves your application and you begin receiving workers’ comp, your benefits are between you and the insurance company — not your employer.
Any time your income increases while on workers’ comp — like if you move to a job that pays more or start working an additional job — notify the insurance company. Income changes will affect how much you receive in weekly payments and potentially how much longer your payments last. If your income increases and you don't tell the insurance, you may need to pay back some of your benefits.
Will I lose workers’ comp if I quit my job?
You should not lose your workers’ compensation benefits if you quit your job or resign. Workers’ comp claims are dependent on your employment status at the time of the work injury, so benefits should continue.
The main exception is that if your employer offers you light-duty or modified-duty work and you choose to quit instead of taking that work, your benefits will most likely end. Unfortunately, you cannot turn down any light-duty work as long as it meets the requirements set by your treating physician.
What if my former employer doesn't cooperate?
Filing for workers’ comp with a former employer may become difficult, especially if you didn't leave on good terms. However, you're entitled to workers' comp benefits after a work injury. If you need filing a claim with a former employer, find an experienced workers' comp lawyer because they'll know the best way to move your claim forward.
Get help with your claim today
Whether you’re thinking about quitting or have recently been fired, working with a lawyer is one of the best ways to get help with your workers’ comp claim. An attorney can evaluate your injury and your employment status to determine the best path forward for your health and your workers’ comp benefits.
Take our quick workers’ comp quiz to find out if a lawyer with your case. Our team will be in touch to learn more about your situation and connect you with a qualified lawyer in your area. There are no upfront costs and you get to choose if you’ll work with our lawyer.
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Common questions about leaving your job on workers' comp
Can I file for workers’ comp after leaving my job?
Yes, you can continue to receive your workers’ comp benefits if you get fired. Your benefits are based on your employment at the time of your injury.
What happens if I get fired while on workers’ comp?
Your employer can fire you or let you go while you’re receiving workers’ comp, but your benefits won’t end. Keep in mind that your employer can’t legally fire you as retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim. If they do, contact an employment lawyer.
Do I lose workers' comp if I quit my job?
No, you won’t lose workers’ comp benefits even if you quit your job. The insurance should still pay for all necessary medical expenses and your payments will continue at the same amount unless you get another job that pays more than your previous job.
Can I resign while on workers' compensation?
Yes, you can resign your job while receiving workers’ compensation and your benefits will continue. The benefits are based on your employment status at the time of your injury, so leaving your job doesn’t affect them.
Can I collect unemployment on workers’ comp?
You generally cannot collect unemployment benefits while receiving workers’ comp, though an attorney can give clearer advice for your situation. Unemployment insurance is usually for those who are able and willing to work, while workers’ comp insurance mostly covers people who are unable to work because of an illness or injury.
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By Victoria Muñoz
What Should You Do if You're Injured at Work?
By Victoria Muñoz
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Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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