Even the best employers utilizing the safest procedures and taking every conceivable precaution might find themselves dealing with a workers compensation claim. Instead of seeing the claim as disgruntled employee's attempt to cash out, think of it as your duty as an employer to compensate a person that is hurt doing the job you are paying them to do. If this is your first time handling a workers compensation claim, you might not even know exactly what it is.
At its most basic, workers compensation is a payment from an employer to one of his/her employees for injuries or illnesses resulting from work. Many businesses have insurance for workers compensation claims, especially if the business they run is dangerous, and so the employer pays due to the insurance company and the insurance company covers the claim. Workers compensation laws, stating what injuries and illnesses are applicable and how much money the employer will owe for them, vary from state to state.
Here are a few tips for avoiding and handling a workers compensation claim:
Have a clear policy statement that requires all employees to report any suspected injuries to superiors or a designated person. Note that false claims will lead to termination of employment and put the notice in your employee manual after you've announced it.
Once an injury is brought to somebody's attention, document everything. After the employee has received care, have him/her write and sign a statement about the origin of the injury, and if there were other people involved or in the room have them do the same.
Make sure the employee gets the care he/she needs. Does he/she need to go to the emergency room? If you can send a supervisor with him/her that may be to your benefit, but make sure that you don't make your employee uncomfortable.
Familiarize yourself with your state's workers compensation laws. What injuries qualify? How much do employers usually pay for the kind of claim you're dealing with? Knowledge is power.
Institute practices that will avoid an injury repeating itself: If someone slipped on a wet floor, buy a sign that will caution future pedestrians. This won't deflect your current claim, but if two employees are injured in the same preventable manner, you might find yourself in a very precarious situation.
Show the claiming employee that you value him/her. Stay in touch while he/she is out of work, and encourage them to keep taking their medication or participating in whatever therapy they are using. It's always easier to deal with a non-hostile claimant.
Report the injury to your insurance company immediately and maintain open communication with them. Even though you are filling out forms, don't treat it as menial labor! Detailed, thorough information can often be the difference between a claim covered by an insurance company and one tossed to the side.
About the Author: When John Stallworth isn’t reviewing the best contractor insurance rates, he is busy providing legal consulting or building his handmade sailboat that he hopes to sale across Lake Michigan one day.