Chicago injury lawyer langdonemison.com: You’ve worked hard to get your business off the ground and now it’s time to reap the rewards. Unfortunately, instead of thinking about how much money you can make, you start thinking about all the things that could go wrong.
For many small business owners, that means worrying about what might happen if one of your employees gets hurt on the job. You don’t want to let them down by not providing a safe working environment, but you also don’t want to put your business at risk by not having a strong workers comp policy in place.
Not only does this mean putting together an action plan for how to handle such situations in future, but also making sure you have everything covered should something go wrong in the short-term. That doesn’t just mean making sure your insurance covers injuries sustained while working for you – it also means avoiding the most common mistakes in injury claims.
Chicago injury lawyer langdonemison.com
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5 Ways to Avoid the Most Common Mistakes in Injury Claims
You’ve seen it before: a worker slips on a sandwich, falls through a skylight or is injured by an unguarded machine. A manager announces the incident is “no big deal” and assigns the worker to light duty for a few days. The worker returns to work without medical restrictions and without reporting for another two weeks, at which point the manager again pronounces the injury no big deal and allows the employee to return to work. In this situation, the manager has made three mistakes that make it very likely that the worker will be unable to recover anything once he hires an attorney. Here are five common mistakes that managers make in handling workers’ compensation claims, along with suggestions for what you should do instead.
Assigning work after a serious injury without medical clearance.
In an ideal world, a manager would know exactly how much weight an injured worker can lift, how long the employee can stand, how far or heavy he can walk and how many pounds he can push or pull. In the real world, however, most managers don’t have the time or training to figure this out. Injuries that often result in a delayed claim include strains and sprains, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and lumbar strain. When you assign an employee to work without knowing how much weight she can lift, what she can do or for how long, you’re asking for trouble. Your workers’ compensation carrier does not care if the worker “toughs it out” and ignores the problem. If you assign work without knowing how much weight she can lift or for how long, she may have a good claim.
Failing to keep employees on light duty until they’re medically cleared to return to work.
When a worker reports an injury, assign her to light duty until the doctor clears her to return to full duties. If she complains, remind her that she’s on workers’ comp and light duty is part of her benefits. If the worker refuses light duty, you have two options. You can assign her to a different job or simply terminate the worker’s employment. Keep in mind that if you let her go because she refuses to perform her job, the worker may have a wrongful termination claim.
Failing to discipline workers who do not report an injury immediately.
In the modern workplace, you’re almost certainly going to have to investigate an injury, even if the worker honestly thinks it’s no big deal. If you discover that the worker failed to report an injury, you must discipline him, even if it’s a first offense. Let’s assume that an employee has a sore back that he does not report and does not affect his ability to perform his job. This will probably not be a problem when the workers’ comp claim is settled. At some point, however, the employee will slip and fall and be unable to sue. If he has suffered a serious back injury and has been working with this problem for weeks or months, he will be able to sue you.
Failing to take photographs of the workplace at the time of an accident and refusing to allow an inspection by safety experts.
If you ever have an accident that results in an injury, take photographs of the accident scene and the equipment involved, along with the injured employee’s work area. Be sure to include photographs of the floor or surface on which the employee was walking or standing and of the employee’s footwear. Let the injured employee know that you will allow safety experts to come in and investigate the accident scene, but that you need to be present during the investigation. Keep in mind that the photographs will be evidence and should be kept separate from the workers’ comp file.
Letting attorneys know that you won’t pay for independent medical evaluations or assistance with vocational rehabilitation.
If a worker is unable to return to work due to an injury, he will probably be eligible for workers’ comp. If he is, he’ll be assigned to a state vocational rehabilitation counselor. If the injured worker has a valid claim, he might be assigned to an IME doctor. The IME doctor will schedule an appointment with the worker and take a detailed medical history. The IME doctor will also order diagnostic tests, including X-rays, MRIs, blood tests, urinalysis and electrocardiograms. If you tell the worker’s attorney that you won’t pay for any of these expenses, the law allows the attorney to add them to the worker’s claim.
Chicago injury lawyer langdonemison.com
Injuries are common in the workplace, but they don’t have to result in a long drawn out legal battle. By following these five tips, you can help to ensure that the injured workers on your team receive the treatment they need and that your organization is protected against future claims.