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CAN I BE FIRED FOR FILING WORKERS’ COMPENSATION?

While you cannot be fired for filing workers’ compensation in Nevada, you can be fired if you refuse to do the light duty work that your employer provides to accommodate your injuries. Your doctor will establish what your restrictions are, and your employer must make any reasonable accommodations for your limitations. From this point, if you do not complete the light duties assigned to you, you can be fired from your job and you may lose your compensation and benefits.

Fired Just for Making a Claim

An injured employee cannot legally be fired just for making a workers’ compensation claim. If the employee is fired for this reason, he or she can file a lawsuit against his or her employer. The employee will be burdened with proving that this was the actual reason for termination. The employer will probably come up with an alternative reason to terminate employment because employers know that it is illegal to fire an injured worker just for making a claim.

Refusing Temporary Light Duty

While your employer must accommodate your limitations within reason with light duty work, you do not have the option of refusing these light duty responsibilities or you will be fired for a legitimate reason. No matter how boring or inconvenient your new work may be, you have to continue with the job unless you can use your vacation days, sick days, personal time, or FMLA protection after your injury.

Termination of Worker on Light Duty

Employment can be terminated for a variety of reasons while a worker is on light duty. If you call in sick multiple times, are late for work, or refuse to perform your new job duties, you can be fired. Even if you just aren’t giving it your best effort, your employer can find a reason to fire you.

Permanent or Temporary Restricted Job Duties

When it comes to restricted job duties, only permanent light duty jobs are legally protected from causing ridicule or embarrassment or from being demeaning to the employee. With temporary restricted job duties, there are not any restrictions like this. Unfortunately, some employers will punish injured employees for filing for workers’ compensation benefits by giving them demeaning jobs. This can make it difficult for the employee to stick with it, but you have to remember that it’s only temporary. As soon as your medical care provider gives the okay, you can get back to your normal job.

Employment Termination and Denied Claims

If you refuse to perform your light duty job and you are fired because of this, you can be denied workers’ compensation by the insurer within 70 days of the insurer receiving notice of termination of employment. Insurers generally assume that the employee is not going to appeal the case, so they will deny compensation no matter what the reason for termination was. In this case, it is helpful for the employee to be aware of his or her rights. You can only legally be denied compensation if you were fired for gross misconduct. If the reason for your termination was not gross misconduct, then you can and should appeal the decision as soon as possible.

Injuries that Prevent Work Commute

If you have injuries that keep you from commuting to work, then you need to have this mentioned in your doctor’s reports of your progress. Your employer will determine which job duties you can perform based on these reports. If you do not show up when scheduled, you can be fired.

Light Duty Work According to Doctor

You should always be thorough when it comes to explaining your job duties to your doctor. This is because the doctor needs to know if he or she should create additional restrictions that apply to your place of employment. This can be beneficial in ensuring that you are able to keep your job despite the restrictions of your workplace injury.

Termination and Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

It is better to file your claim for workers’ compensation while you are still working at your place of employment. If you get fired, then the insurer is going to assume that your claim is invalid. Then, it will be your job to prove that the injury occurred at work, not after employment was terminated.

NRS 616C.232 Amendments

NRS 616C.232 amendments changed the availability of benefits for temporary total disability for situations where an injured employee is fired while working on light duty after a workplace injury. It used to be much more difficult for the employee to recover compensation for his or her injuries if employment was terminated for any reason at all during this time. There was an amendment in A.B.281 Section 5 that stated that temporary total disability benefits can be denied in these cases, but nothing else. More recently an amendment in S.B.195 Section 4 altered this so that these benefits can only be denied in cases where the employee is fired for gross misconduct.

Hiring An Attorney

If you have any kind of issues with your light duty job, you can hire an attorney to discuss your options and rights in relation to Nevada workers’ compensation laws. Do the best you can with your work duties until you can speak with your attorney or with your physician. Request further restrictions as needed from your doctor to make it easier for you to keep your job.

Always keep copies of all documents and forms related to your workers’ compensation claim. Store them in a safe place along with the contact information of people you’ve spoken to about your case. All of this may be used as evidence at a later date.

Workers’ Compensation FAQ

What do I do if I was injured at work?

When you’ve been seriously injured at work, you need to start by visiting the emergency room. You need to notify your employer right away that you have experienced an injury or observed the onset of an occupational disease. You will need to request Form C-1 (Notice of Injury or Occupational Disease – Incident Report), and fill out, sign, and date this form. Your employer will also have to sign and date the form, and you will have seven days to complete and send in the form. Continue with any medical treatment that is necessary for your injuries.

How do I file a workers’ compensation claim?  

To start your workers’ compensation claim, you need to request and complete Form C-4 (Employee’s Claim for Compensation/Report of Initial Treatment). You will get this form from your doctor when you receive you initial treatment. You complete the top portion of the form with your information. The doctor fills out the bottom portion, and when you file the C-4, you have officially begun your workers’ compensation claim. You must be sure to completely and accurately fill out the C-4 form to avoid having the process delayed by missing or inaccurate information.

How much time do I have to file a claim?

From the moment you’ve been injured or become aware of the onset of an occupational disease, you have 90 days to file for workers’ compensation.

Can I choose my own doctor or chiropractor?

You cannot usually choose your own doctor or chiropractor. You will have to see a medical provider who is authorized by the insurer and who is on the Panel of Treating Physicians and Chiropractors. If your injury is not severe, then you should chose from your employer’s MCO, HMO, or preferred provider list. If you aren’t sure who you can see, you should look at the Form D-1 (Brief Description of Your Rights and Benefits) poster. There should be one in a common employee area. When it comes to emergencies, the nearest emergency room in your area is fine.

Who is handling my claim?

You can discover who is handling your claim by viewing any acceptance or denial letters that you’ve received. If you don’t have these, ask your employer and check the D-1 (Brief Description of your Rights and Benefits) poster. You can also look at the WCS website for a link to the coverage Verification Service (http://dirweb.state.nv.us/WCS/cvs.htm). This site allows you to search for coverage by employer name. Then there is a list of self-insured employers and employers under associations on the Division of Insurance website (http://doi.state.nv.us). If all else fails, contact WCS: Southern Nevada at (702) 486 9080 or Northern Nevada at (775) 684-7270.

When will I find out if my claim was accepted?

You will find out if your claim has been accepted or denied by receiving notification from the insurer which has up to 30 days past their receipt of your Form C-4 to make their decision and notify your representative of acceptance or denials. You can review your appeal rights at this time.

Can my employer stop me from filing for workers’ compensation?

It is 100% illegal for your employer to in any way coerce you into avoiding treatment after a workplace injury. Only the insurer can accept or deny your claim.

What do I do if my employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation coverage?

You should still seek out medical treatment and complete Form C-4. However, you need to inform the medical staff that your employer may not be covered. This will be investigated by WCS who will let you know what your options are. There are workers’ compensation benefits available from the Nevada Uninsured Employer Account.

I was fired after I was injured at work. Isn’t that illegal?

It is illegal for your employer to fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, Nevada is an employment-at-will state, which means you can be fired without reason at any time. It will be up to you to prove that you were illegally fired for a workers’ compensation claim.

Can I report fraudulent workers’ compensation claims?

If you suspect a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim or any other related fraudulent behavior, contact the Attorney General’s Workers’ Compensation Fraud unit. This unit will investigate all claims of suspected fraud. The AG Fraud Hotline is (800) 266-8688. You can also visit their website (http://ag.state.nv.us/org/bcj/spd/wcfu/wcfu.html).

Can I reopen my claim in the future?

NRS 616C.390 details the requirements, procedure and limitations of claim reopening. Also, the Nevada Attorney for Injured Workers has compiled helpful suggestions for claim reopening: http://naiw.nv.gov/Reopening/index.html

You may be able to reopen your claim according to the procedures and limitations detailed in NRS 616C.390. You can learn more from the Nevada Attorney for Injured Workers (http://naiw.nv.gov/Reopening/index.html)

Do I have to accept a light duty job?

If you reject the light duty work provided by your employer to accommodate your restrictions, then you can be fired and lose your compensation (NRS 616C475 and NAC 616C.583).

Can an illegal immigrant get workers’ compensation in Nevada?

Illegal immigrants can get workers’ compensation according to NRS 616A.105 which describes employees as people in service of an employer, lawfully or unlawfully employed, including illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants are not able to receive vocational rehabilitation, however.

What benefits can I receive if I’ve been injured on the job?

You can receive benefits and compensation for your medical treatment, lost time, permanent partial or permanent total disability, vocational rehabilitation, dependents payment in the event of death, and other expenses related to the claim, like mileage.

I don’t think claim is being handled properly. Can I do anything?

If you don’t think your claim is being handled properly, you need to discuss this with your employer. If this does not resolve your concerns, you should contact your claims adjuster. If you still don’t feel comfortable, contact the DIR/WCS. You have appeal rights to the Department of Administration, Hearings Division which can resolve and disputes with your claim. If you don’t agree with a determination, appeal to this office within 70 days of the decision or appeal to the Appeals Officer within 30 days of a decision made by a Managed Care Organization.

How do I file a complaint?

Visit the Injured Employees Page of the WCS website (http://dirweb.state.nv.us/WCS/wcs.htm). Print a copy of the complaint form, choosing the form based on where in Nevada your claims administrator is located. You’ll use the Northern Complaint form if your administrator is in Reno and the Southern Complaint form if your administrator is in Las Vegas.

Do I have any other resources?

Another resource that you can turn to is the Office of the Governor Consumer Health Assistance – (888) 333-1597 (http://govcha.state.nv.us/) or a Nevada workers’ compensation attorney.

My question wasn’t answered here. What do I do now?

Email your question to the WCS (WCSHelp@business.nv.gov) or call the Southern office at (702) 486-9080 or the Northern office at (775)684-7270.

What If I Had a Preexisting Condition Before My Work Injury?

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