How to Survive a Worker's Comp Claim
If you're getting ready to deal with a worker's compensation claim, read these tips on how you can survive -- whether you're an employee or employer.
This story originally appeared on Personal Branding Blog
Worker's compensation — it's not a fun time for employees or employers. As much as each party tries desperately not to have an injury occur in the workplace, it always seems like someone gets hurt somehow. If you're getting ready to deal with a worker's compensation claim, take cover. Actually, better yet, read these tips on how you can survive — whether you're an employee or employer.
After an injury, everyone has an elevated stress level. The employee is injured and in pain, and the employer is understandably freaking out. The best thing both parties can do is calm down. Try to relax, and remember this: Health is the no. 1 priority.
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When an employee is injured, they should seek immediate care for the injury. It's the employer's job to ensure that happens. Getting medical care is the first step in getting the situation under control, too, which can start to help the stress levels balance out.
Gather and document facts
Knowing the circumstances that led to the injury is the bulk of your worker's comp claim. The employee should try to remember exactly what was done and either write it down or have someone else write it down. It's important to have the information documented when it's fresh in people's minds.
An employer needs to do the same, even if they didn't see what happened. They should stillanalyze the area where the injury occurred. Write down what they see, and take pictures if possible. Speaking to other employees who saw the incident is also a good idea, as is documenting what those employees say by writing it down and recording an audio or video of the information.
Speak to a lawyer
An attorney has your back during a worker's compensation claim, so employ one as soon as possible. You don't want to get into the claims process and risk having something be said or done that isn't right.
An employee should contact a lawyer for a worker's compensation consultation.
The employer should contact one as well to ensure they have followed protocol exactly as they should.
File the worker's compensation claim
The employee must file the worker's compensation claim. This can be with the assistance of a lawyer or without one. However, it's always best to have the guidance of an attorney because sometimes, stories can become misconstrued, making it difficult for an employee to get the compensation they might actually deserve.
Related: 5 Ways to Make Your Employees Happier and More Productive
It can be difficult to wait on the processing of a worker's compensation claim. For some cases, the entire process is as easy as having the employer confirm what the employee has said is true, and all of the damages are paid for by the employer.
However, in many cases, the information that is gathered from the employee and employer do not match. This leads to a lot more work when it comes to proving one person's story is more accurate than the other.
Some cases can take a few months, while others can take over a year to settle. Patience is key for both employees and employers.
Employers and employees often have to try to be as understanding as possible. Employees simply want to get what they deserve from their workplace injury such as payment for medical costs, a percentage of pre-injury salary, rehabilitation or light duty.
Employers want to ensure their employees are not taking advantage of them. While many employees are honest and truthful with their worker's comp claims, there are some who try to reap undeserved benefits — that's why you end up having to work harder to prove what you say and do isn't out of malicious intent.
Did you know that 86 percent of companies have a return to work program? This means employees who are injured can return to work — they will just have fewer responsibilities and demands than they had before the injury. This could be part-time hours or just being required to complete lighter tasks throughout the day.
It's important for employees and employers to work together. The injury that occurred isn't anyone's fault, so there shouldn't be any hard feelings. Figuring out what the employee can and cannot do and having the employer willing to help the person get back to work can greatly increase morale — and help the employee recover fully to eventually return to 100% productivity.
Think about how it can be better next time
As you get through the worker's compensation claims process, you may find you made some mistakes with your policy as an employer, or you came really close to needing disability insurance as an employee.
The best time to take care of that is now. Call your insurance company to ask how you can improve your worker's compensation policy. Some businesses request a higher deductible in exchange for lower premiums, and some employees request to have money taken out of their paychecks for disability insurance.
Getting through it with a smile
Regardless of how simple a worker's compensation case may be, it's still not easy to go through it. You may need to work with lawyers and the court to ensure you are being treated fairly.
However, the good news is worker's compensation laws were created to protect you — the employer and the employee. As long as everyone does what they are supposed to do, the worker's compensation claims process should be much easier to deal with — no matter which side you're on.
Related: Yes, There Is a Disconnect Between Employers and Employees on Work-Life Balance