As a business owner, one of your most important responsibilities is ensuring your employees' safety and well-being. No matter how much you prioritize safety in the workplace, accidents can still happen. When an employee gets injured on the job, you must take care of them and file a claim with your workers' compensation insurance carrier.
Filing a workers' compensation claim is a straightforward task. Still, if you haven’t filed a work comp claim, here are some pointers on filing it from a business owner's perspective.
Get medical attention for your employee:
The first step is ensuring your employee receives the immediate medical attention they need. If the injury is severe, call 911 so they can be taken to the nearest emergency room. If the injury is serious but not life-threatening, have a manager take the injured worker to the nearest urgent care center. Do not have them drive themselves. The manager should inform the healthcare provider that the injury is work-related and provide the name of the workers’ compensation insurance company and the employer's name.
Depending on your state, you may be required to use an approved network of medical facilities and doctors for employee injuries. When you receive your workers’ compensation policy, familiarize yourself with your insurance company’s and state’s filing processes.
If only first-aid is required, this can be done at the job location. Always have first-aid kits at all locations, including off-premises job sites, such as storing in a supervisor’s vehicle.
Report the injury to your insurance carrier:
After your employee has received medical attention, report the injury to your workers' compensation insurance carrier. All injuries, minor or major, should be reported within 24 hours of the occurrence. A First Notice of Injury Form must be completed. It includes the employee/employer details, what happened, and where the employee was treated. Most insurers will accept the information from the employer online or over the phone and complete the Notice of Injury form for you. Work Comp policies usually include a sample form, and these forms can also be completed and faxed or emailed to the carrier. Fillable PDF Notice of Injury forms are also available online.
It is recommended that you file workers’ compensation claims directly with your carrier due to time constraints for filing and potential state and OSHA penalties for late filing. OSHA also has claim filing requirements to comply with whether your state falls under Federal OSHA or state-governed OSHA. Federal OSHA requires notification from the employer within 8 hours of a fatality and within 24 hours of an injury requiring hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.
Cooperate with the insurance carrier:
Your insurance carrier will likely investigate the claim to determine its validity. This may involve speaking with the employee, and witnesses, reviewing medical records, and inspecting the workplace. Cooperating fully with the insurance carrier ensures that the claim is processed quickly and accurately.
Keep records of the claim:
As the employer, you should keep detailed records of the workers' compensation claim. This includes documentation of the injury and communication with your employee and the insurance carrier. These records can help in case of a dispute over a claim.
Stay in touch with the employee:
Finally, staying in touch with the injured employee is vital throughout the process. Let them know you care about their well-being and are doing everything you can to support them. Keep them updated on the progress of their claim and any changes to their work status. Offer them a lighter duty position than they had to get them back to work sooner.
Filing a workers' compensation claim may seem complicated, but it's essential to protecting your business and your employees. By following these steps, you can ensure that the claim is processed quickly and accurately. More importantly, your injured employee receives the timely support they need to recover and return to work.
Here are a few additional pieces of information that business owners should keep in mind when filing a workers' compensation claim for their employee:
Understand your state's laws:
Workers' compensation laws vary by state, so understand the specific requirements in your state. This includes state and OSHA reporting requirements, deadlines for filing claims, and what types of injuries are covered.
Have a plan in place:
To make the process smoother, it's a good idea to have a plan for handling workplace injuries. This might include designating the nearest urgent care provider, posting the workers’ compensation insurance provider and policy number, and identifying who will call the injured employee’s emergency contacts.
Train your employees on safety procedures:
While accident prevention to avoid workplace injuries is best, this only occurs with proper safety training. Regular safety meetings, providing appropriate personal protective equipment, and training on injury prevention show your employees your business cares for them. Make safety fun, count the injury-free days, and provide a pizza lunch when goals are met. Ask for employee safety suggestions, and reward the best.
Communicate with your insurance carrier:
Throughout the claims process, being available to communicate with your insurance carrier is important. Don't hesitate to reach out with any claim questions or concerns to your assigned adjuster.