Communicating issues to an employer is generally better than an employer only being informed through paperwork.
Employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. They must do so not only to protect their employees in the event of injury, but also to protect themselves. Injured employees should receive medical care and potentially other workers’ comp benefits for a workplace injury. The system is intended to give aid to injured workers and protect employers from injured employers filing personal injury claims with the courts.
The workers’ compensation system is self-contained and handles cases independent of the regular court system.
While employers are not usually very keen on paying the workers’ comp premiums, most understand that it is necessary as protection for themselves and their employees. However, just like many injured workers are reticent to file injury claims because they are wary of retaliatory actions by employers, employers are also afraid of workers who file comp claims. This is because insurance premiums may go up when injury claims are filed. There is also the concern that workers may attempt to commit workers’ compensation fraud and file an injury claim in an attempt to collect benefits that they are not actually entitled to.
While fraud committed by employees is more commonly discussed, some employers commit fraud as well by underreporting their number of employees or purposely misclassifying them in order to keep premiums as low as possible. Then when an employee is injured they find out their employer is not covered.
Presumably, the majority of employers do care about the well being of their employees. These employers are invested in making sure that employees are well taken care of and will help them to file claims and get the care that they require. But claims are covered by workers’ compensation insurance companies, so employers do not make the ultimate decision of whether or not an injury claim will be accepted. Still, the help of an employer can make a big difference in the beginning when it comes to procedure.
Why Communication May Help
Injured workers should report injuries to employers as soon as they happen. Employers who understand how the injury happened, and the circumstances surrounding the accident or injury will make them better inclined and equipped to relay that information to the insurance company.
Employers are required to post notices for workers regarding their legal rights to medical care and benefits for injuries sustained while on the job. They are additionally required to give the name of their insurer and to give the employer access to medical care as soon as they are notified that an injury has occurred.
Once employees notify their employers of an injury, they should attempt to keep lines of communication open, as this is always preferred. Update the employer regarding medical care and diagnoses, as well as any impacts or problems that have been the result of the injury. Communicating these issues to an employer is generally better than an employer only being informed through paperwork. With this personal connection they will be more likely to offer help.
Some employers are less than inclined to be helpful, however, and can make it very difficult for injured employees to get the care and support they need. They may delay reporting the injury, not report it at all, or present the information to the insurance company in a way that is unfavorable for the employee, encouraging the insurer to question the validity of the claim.
Some injured workers experience reactions from their employers that are hostile or discouraging and may be intended from keeping the injured worker from even filing a claim. In these instances the injured worker may be able to sue the employer if they have felt coerced or retaliated against as this is illegal.
Some employers who are hostile may attempt to intimidate or coerce the injured worker for filing a claim. This can result in all types of problems for the injured worker and the injured worker may be able to sue the employer who retaliates or coerces him because he has filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Contact a Workers Comp Lawyer
Hopefully everything will go smoothly with filing an injury claim, but if it does not, it is a good idea to get in touch with an experienced St. Louis workers’ compensation attorney who can offer legal assistance. At the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann, we have over 20 years of experience working to protect the rights of injured Missouri workers. Call us today at (314) 361-4300 or fill out our Online Contact Form to schedule a free consultation.