Imagine that you fired or laid off an employee. A few months later, you receive notice that the former employee has filed a workers’ compensation claim. Can they really do that? The short answer is ‘yes’—and it happens far more often than most people realize. At the same time, not all claims filed after termination are compensable. A defense can be raised under California law.
Indeed, pursuant to California Labor Code § 3600(a)(10), employers can effectively defend many post-termination workers’ comp claims. That being said, there are some notable exceptions that employees can use to seek coverage. Here, our California workers’ comp defense lawyers explain the most important things to know about post-termination defense under LC 3600(a)(10).
In California, employers must provide no-fault workers’ comp coverage to their employees. If an employee is hurt on the job, they can recover benefits without proving that the employer was at fault for the accident. Once an employee is separated from their job, they are no longer covered by workers’ comp insurance.
In our state, most post-termination workers’ comp claims are governed by Labor Code § 3600(a)(10). The statute holds that there is a general rule that “no compensation shall be paid” after an employee is notified that they are being fired, laid off, or otherwise removed from their position. However, LC 3600(a)(10) also includes for specified exceptions.
When an employee files a post-termination workers’ comp claim, they will likely try to rely on one of the exceptions in Labor Code § 3600(a)(10). To effectively defend these claims, employers and claims administrators should understand the exceptions. Here is what you need to know:
- Employer had Pre-Termination Notice: If the employer knew about the injury before termination, then it does not matter if the claim was filed after the termination date. The employee can still pursue benefits.
- Pre-Termination Medical Records Suggest Injury: In some cases, employees may not have been fully aware of the extent of their injuries until a later date. If comprehensive medical records prove a pre-termination onset, an employee may bring a claim.
- Work Injury Post-Termination Notice, But Pre Effective Termination Date: A termination notice may be given before it becomes effective. Employees can still file a claim for injuries that occur post-notice by pre-effect.
It is a Cumulative Trauma Claim and the Technical Onset Date is Early: Post-termination defense and cumulative trauma claims is a complicated matter. In California, the technical “onset” date for cumulative trauma could potentially extend back before the termination date.