You may not know this, or even believe it, but you the Employer are the first line of defense in a workers’ compensation claim. Here’s why.
First and foremost, your Employee Handbook should contain a section concerning the timely reporting of workplace accidents and injuries. Your policy can even specify who the report should be made to which, in most cases, is the Employee’s immediate Foreman or Supervisor. And your personnel file should contain an Acknowledgment Page signed by the Employee when he/she was hired and received the handbook.
Second, your accident reporting procedures should include specific Accident Reports. I prefer the three-part system; Accident Report, Supervisor’s Report and Witness Statement. This allows for an objective, three dimensional collection of information. You would be shocked at the inconsistencies we can discover using this three-part system. And remember, the Employee has two years from the date of injury in which to file his application for workers’ compensation benefits so getting these Accident Reports on file early clearly helps protect evidence.
Third, your accident investigation should also discover and document where the Employee goes for medical treatment. That helps jump start the claim investigation and collection of medical records.
Finally, the Employer usually receives either a Disability Slip or a Return to Work form laying out physical work restrictions. (Your Employee Handbook can require this from the Employee as well.) How you respond to this form is very important. If you can accommodate the physical restrictions, you can eliminate temporary total disability benefits in the claim and reduce a major cost driver.
This is why I say the Employer is the first line of defense. All of the foregoing should be accomplished in the first couple days after an injury and well before your third party administrator or legal counsel even knows of the alleged incident.
If you would like to discuss any of these issues, or need any assistance, please call me directly.
Steven R. Yoo
Steve has been practicing in the area of workers’ compensation for over twenty years and focuses his practice on the defense and management of workers’ compensation claims for both self-insured and state fund employers. His practice includes accident investigation, claim assessment, claims management and advising employers on defense strategies. Read More