Workers' compensation claims can vary by state, but attorney William Barath, a partner and chairman of the workplace safety group for the Columbus, Ohio, law firm of Schottenstein, Zox and Dunn, offers some basic tips for responding to a claim. Here's what he suggests:
- Decide whether the employee's injury is work-related. "If the person lacerated their hand and there were witnesses, there's not a whole lot of point in fighting that workers' comp claim. On the other hand, if an employee comes in on Monday morning and says, 'I hurt my back on Friday,' but they never told anybody on Friday, legally they can file their claim, but you should investigate and ask around."
- Make sure you have a policy that injuries must be reported immediately. This way, the employer can note that the worker didn't follow company guidelines if the injury is reported at a later date. "It helps my defense to say, 'They didn't tell me anything about it, so I didn't know anything about it.'"
- Develop medical evidence. Have the employee examined by a doctor of your choice. "Build a factual record -- any witness statements based on the prior investigation you should have done or are doing like you do with any accident."