It may be difficult for some people to understand, but if you abandon your job, workers’ compensation cannot help you. Workers’ compensation is limited to helping only those who are actually injured or made ill on the job. The courts re-emphasized the purpose of workers’ compensation last year in Haile v. Fair Oaks Estates. Alemnesh Haile was employed as a patient caregiver by the Fair Oaks Estates Senior Living Community when her right shoulder was injured. Fair Oaks Estates was able to find work for her within her physician-ordered work restrictions.
Haile’s father then became ill, and she bought a plane ticket to visit him in Ethiopia. Fair Oaks Estates did not approve the number of days she requested for the trip. She showed up for work the day before her flight, received her last check, and left for Ethiopia. Upon her return, Fair Oaks Estates informed her she had been terminated for abandoning her job. Haile applied for workers’ compensation benefits, even though she had left her job and even though work within her medically-imposed restrictions was available.
The workers’ comp judge, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, and the Court of Appeal all denied Haile’s claim. While it’s sad that Haile was injured and that her father became ill, neither her employer nor the insurer should have to pay workers’ compensation in this kind of situation. Workers’ compensation is for those who are injured and cannot work, period. It’s not designed as a cure-all for all work-related problems. Workers’ compensation was created to help those who are sick or injured because of their work environment or conditions. If this describes you, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you file and win your claim.
If you believe that you have a legitimate work-related injury or illness, speak at once with a good workers’ compensation lawyer. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will guide you through the process and will fight diligently for the compensation you deserve.