A very nice, very panicked injured worker called me the other day. He had hurt his back on the job and a couple of days later got furloughed due to Coronavirus. He was having trouble getting in to see a doctor and then received word that his company was going out of business because of the virus.
It certainly wasn’t a great week for him. When he called his old boss to find out how to get medical care for his back, he was told that he was out of luck since they were filing bankruptcy and closing up shop. This isn’t a big company, but a small town, local retailer.
The injured worker assumed he was out of luck, but fortunately decided to look around.
The bad news is that he’s injured and he has no job to go back to when he gets healthy. The good news is that his company going out of business doesn’t affect his rights to get workers’ compensation benefits. That means he can get all of the medical care he needs in order to get better, he will get paid for his time off of work, if he has permanent restrictions he’ll continue to get paid and he will be able to get a settlement when he’s all better.
The reason the bankruptcy and going out of business doesn’t hurt him is because the company had insurance coverage. That doesn’t go away just because the employer does. It’s a common mistake that we are seeing more and more with so many companies going out of business from Covid and the bad economy.
And in a case like this, if he has any restrictions he will continue to get paid even if the old employer could have worked with those restrictions. This will continue when he’s discharged from the doctor although he will have an obligation to look for new work at that point. In some cases it becomes easier to win because company witnesses that might have disputed your claim become unavailable or in general it’s harder for the insurance company to get information that might be used to sabotage you such as an HR person who has a negative opinion of you.
Obviously in an ideal world he doesn’t get injured and continues to have a job to work, but that’s not how reality plays out. So we focus on how we can help people and in a case like this we can usually help a lot.
So while I don’t want to say don’t worry if your employer shuts down, I do want to tell you not to worry that it’s going to end your work comp case. You don’t lose your rights and your case shouldn’t be delayed.
As always, please contact us for a free consultation with an attorney if you have any questions or want help with a case.