Don’t Feel Guilty, Work Injuries Happen

One thing I tell my clients is ‘don’t feel guilty, work injuries happen”. Why do I tell them that? Because I hear the guilt in their voices. They say things like “I didn’t mean for this to happen” or “I’ve never been through this before” or “I never thought this would happen to me.” Where do these statements really come from?

More than likely, I find out these statements come when an injured worker is being unfairly treated by supervisors and/or co-workers. Often times, they make the injured worker feel guilty. The make them feel like they just “can’t handle the work”, or they are just money hungry, or they should just ‘suck it up’ or maybe you “just can’t handle it here”. Many times the injured worker is treated differently. Perhaps they receive harassment from co-workers or supervisors while on light duty. Perhaps the injured worker is suddenly being targeted for performance problems. What I can say it is wrong and perhaps illegal.

Retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim is unlawful. Yes, Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Shick v. Shirey, 552 Pa. 590 (1998) has held that terminating an injured worker without cause after reporting or filing a workers compensation claim may lead to a separate cause of action against the employer.

“Accordingly, we hold that a cause of action exists under Pennsylvania law for wrongful discharge of an employee who files a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The complaint filed in this case was sufficient to state a cause of action for wrongful discharge.”

With reference to harassment for filing a workers’ compensation injury, an injured worker may have cause of action under Federal Law within the OSHA Act as well as under state law.

It is amazing that I still have to write this type of article. No one goes to work hoping to get hurt. Many injured workers are suffering physically, emotionally, and mentally from work injuries. They are also facing financial problems due to reduced income because they are on workers’ compensation benefits. No one asks for that.

If employers want to avoid work-related injuries, perhaps they should upgrade their safety procedures, hire more workers, provide more safety training, and provide safer facilities. These items alone could eliminate many work injuries. However, they cost employers the almighty dollar. But even with those remedies, accidents happen. Body parts fail. Thing go awry. It happens on our roads, in our homes, in public, or anywhere. Accidents happen. Injuries occur. And NO, you should not feel guilty about it. And you certainly should not be fired, treated differently, or harassed for getting injured. It simply is wrong.

Don’t feel guilt, work injuries happen. You also don’t need to fight alone. Mooney Law stands ready to fight and protect the benefits you are entitled to. We are proven, tested, and experience din workers’ compensation law. Call us today for a free consultation at 717-200-HELP or 717-632-4656. You can also complete a scheduled a consultation form on our website. Finally, feel free to follow my workers’ comp Facebook page.

Mark Buterbaugh

Attorney representing injured workers and Social Security Disability clients in Pennsylvania and Maryland.