Take Action to Control Workers' Comp AFTER an Accident
No matter how careful your company is, accidents and injuries can still happen. When they do, responding properly is an important factor in keeping your Workers' Compensation insurance costs under control. Here are six steps to take in the event an injury occurs:
AFTER AN ACCIDENT
- Make sure the injured person gets immediate medical care.
- Create a file. Get as much as you can in writing from the very beginning. Record time and circumstance and what witnesses have to say. Include any correspondence with doctors, the insurer and the employee.
Workers' Comp insurance is expensive but smart planning may cut the cost. One glass installer, for example, paid steep premiums because of the number of claims filed by employees.
The installer couldn't prevent all injuries due to the nature of the business. So the firm contracted with a nearby medical clinic to treat employees with minor cuts and other injuries for a monthly retainer. Result: Workers' Comp Claims and premiums went down. And the company found that for every $1 paid to the clinic, it saved $2 in insurance premiums.
Not Just Sudden Accidents
Depending on the policy, Workers' Comp may cover long-term job related conditions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and digestive problems related to stress.
- Reassure the injured employee. Call within 24 hours to check on the condition of injured staff members and tell them the company is there for them. Describe the wage-protection program and medical benefits. Consider sending flowers, candy or books. Not only does a gesture like this make them feel better, it also makes them less likely to listen to any ambulance-chasing attorneys who may call as well.
- Don't let the employee languish at home. Get them back to work as soon as possible. You may have to put them on light duty or a modified assignment. Statistics indicate that the longer an employee stays idle, the more likely it is that he or she will never be fully employed again. Those kinds of claims drive up your rates. Consider consulting with the doctor about what the employee is able to do and think hard about how you could put the person to work profitably -- even in a different job.
- If you have doubts about the legitimacy of the claim, do a little detective work to determine: "Was the employee where he or she was supposed to be, doing what he or she was supposed to be doing?" Talk to people to learn what you can about the employee's circumstances. If something seems out of line, notify the insurance company or state fund.
- Be careful about not allowing employees back to work. It's not illegal to refuse to take an employee back if you don't have a job available. But it is illegal to not rehire someone because of an injury, and wrongful termination claims aren't covered under Workers' Comp policies. Once employees are back on the job, it's generally a violation of Workers' Comp laws to penalize or discriminate against them because they filed a claim
Consult with your attorney before you take any action or make promises.