From the moment a workplace injury or illness is reported, the actions that an employer takes can have a profound effect on the result of the associated workers’ compensation claim. Protecting yourself against fraudulent claimants and excessive awards isn’t difficult but requires diligent attention.
West Virginia’s Employer Coverage Unit enforces compliance with the state’s workers’ compensation law. Adhering to some simple rules and best practices before and after a claim can avert problems and unnecessary costs. If an employee has suffered a work-related injury or illness, helpful steps you can take include:
- Providing necessary forms and information to the worker — Fault is not a factor in workers’ compensation actions, so everyone’s focus after an incident is reported is to make sure the employee has the forms and insurance information to initiate the workers’ compensation process. Even if you have suspicions about the authenticity of the employee’s account, this isn’t the time to address it with them.
- Immediately reporting the incident to your insurer — There can be a tendency among some employers to try to minimize the situation or attempt to work things out informally. This could have serious negative consequences. Your business has purchased workers’ compensation insurance for precisely this reason and placing the case in your insurer’s hands will ensure proper handling while allowing you to concentrate on your everyday duties.
- Investigating details regarding the injury — Even a short conversation with co-workers or a review of security camera footage might provide evidence that a claimant was not hurt on the job or is exaggerating the severity of their medical condition.
- Keeping in touch with injured and returning workers — Sometimes a slight accommodation can accelerate an employee’s return to work. In other instances, you might learn that a workers’ comp recipient isn’t following their prescribed course of treatment. Medical conditions can change quickly, so it’s important to keep on top of the situation.
In West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, the attorneys of Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe, PLLC deliver comprehensive counsel to employers and insurers in all types of workers’ compensation actions. To schedule a consultation regarding a specific claim or general compliance concerns, call 304-344-0100 or contact us online.