Employment Law

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Injury at Work Rights Related Questions

Employees at their workplaces are responsible for performing their jobs in a safe and wholesome manner in order not to expose themselves or colleagues to the risk of bodily harm. However, an employee who falls ill or gets injured on the job is protected by various laws and has a right to medical needs being taken care of. When an employee takes ill or suffers an injury on the job, he or she needs to be careful in following certain steps outlined by law. This situation may become confusing, giving rise to doubts as to what needs to be done. Listed below are some top questions answered by lawyers regarding injury at work.

An employee suffers an injury at work and undergoes surgery which leads to complications and permanent damage, but is terminated from work for the resulting absence. Moreover, no attorney seems to be willing to take up the case. What are the employee’s rights in this case?

In such a case, if the injury is a work-related one and the doctors certify the disability and advise the employee not to work, it is likely that the employee would receive a significant settlement. The State Bar Association can help provide attorney referrals and the employee could even file for social security disability benefits.

After sustaining an injury at work, an employee files for workers’ compensation and returns to work following surgery but then needs to go on vacation failing which compensation for the vacation time will be lost. Will going on vacation affect the workers’ compensation claim?

Going on a vacation will not affect the workers’ compensation claim, especially if the doctor permits it. However, while the employee is on vacation he or she needs to be careful not to do anything that would reflect he or she was not injured.

Can an employee be fired after suffering an injury at work? Also, can the employee be forced to use Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for a pre-existing medical problem that is aggravated because of work?

No employer has the right to fire an employee for sustaining an injury at work. In the case of a pre-existing medical problem, the employee would still need to file a workers’ compensation (WC) claim/injury report first. The employee would be entitled to compensation and benefits for the new work-related injury. It is also advisable to consult with a WC attorney immediately as the employer should have informed the employee of his rights to file for benefits. The State Bar Association can help provide attorney referrals.

The employer can force the employee to use Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time concurrent with the WC benefits, but the employee cannot be terminated for filing a claim under WC in the event of availing leave beyond the 12 weeks permissible under the FMLA.

If an employee has had an injury at work due to his own negligence, can the employer ask him to return the claim money received through the workers’ compensation?

? Workers’ compensation is supposed to compensate workers injured on the job, even if the worker's own negligence contributed to the injury. The employer has no right to reclaim any benefits paid through the workers’ compensation.

A company-referred doctor complicates an existing wrist injury sustained by an employee at work and covered under workers’ compensation. This results in a new second injury and the employee loses use of the arm. Shouldn’t the second injury also be covered by workers’ compensation?

A malpractice claim needs to be filed against the doctor for the second injury. Since this injury did not occur on the job but while under medical care, which is out of the control of the employer, no claim can be made under workers’ compensation.

Can an employee in Nebraska who suffered a back injury at work hold an employer responsible after ten years of its having taken place?

Nebraska has a four year statute of limitations from the date the injury took place and ten years is way beyond the statutory limit. Also, since neither the employer nor any of the authorities were ever informed about the injury, the employee cannot hold the employer liable for any of the medical or emotional problems resulting from the injury.

Can an employer have the medical records reviewed by another doctor after the employee has had an injury at work?

The employer is well within its rights to require the company physician to review the employee’s medical records in order to assess his or her fitness to return to work. But the employer’s doctor is bound by patient confidentiality, which restricts the release of any specific medical information about the employee to the employer. The doctor may only inform the employer of any work restrictions the employee may have and/or in general can only state whether or not the employee is fit enough to return to work.

While employees should take care to perform their jobs in a safe manner to avoid injuring both themselves and their coworkers, injuries and illness do sometimes happen. There are a number of laws under which an employee can take recourse when injuries or illness take place at work. It is imperative for an employee to be aware of his or her legal rights in such a situation, and a legal expert can help clear up confusion regarding these important rights.
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