In most cases, the insurance carrier for your employer will file a Petition to Suspend wage loss benefits. A Petition to Suspend is filed when the insurer believes that your earning power is no longer adversely affected by your work injury. In this specific context- that is, when an injured worker quits- the insurer will argue that the injured worker has voluntarily taken herself out of the workforce such that a Suspension of wage loss should be ordered by the Work Comp Judge. A Suspension of benefits only goes to wage loss- not medical benefits under the PA Work Comp Act.
You should never quit your position without first speaking to an experienced Pennsylvania Work Comp Lawyer. The effect on your case may be quite significant. In some cases, however, a quit may be a good thing. For example, if you have a better job lined up, then a quit can obviously benefit you. But there are timing issues involved with settlement and it’s important to get legal advice before you make such a move.
What are possible defenses against the argument that an injured worker’s wage loss should be suspended after a quit? Perhaps it was due to the work injury itself. Or, perhaps the work environment was “hostile” (this has a specific defintion so be careful not to assume that merely because a co-worker or boss is rude or a jerk that you are therefore subjected to a hostile work environment). Sometimes workers are essentially forced to quit. In some situations, the employer will write a letter stating that a failure to return to work will be deemed a “quit”. (even though the reality is that the employer simply cannot accommodate your restrictions). This usually happens when an injured worker has restrictions from her doctor but an IME doctor claims she can work full duty. It goes without saying that these cases and situations are very fact specific.
Be careful also with pension situation. Insurers will often argue that the receipt of a pension is equivalent to the worker withdrawing from the workforce. (ie, retiring).
A good way to combat an insurer’s argument that your wage loss should be suspended based on a retirment or voluntary quit is to show that you are actively looking for work. Keep copies of any job applications.
Also beware of the effect of a quit on Unemployment Compensation. The Unemployment Compensation folks may deny a claim for UC benefits if they believe you voluntarily quit your job.
These situations can be complex. Feel free to call or email me 7 days a week to discuss your situation. All consults are free.
215-206-9068 or Michael@Cardamonelaw.com
The Cardamone Law Firm
The Firm For Injured Workers In Pennsylvania