None of us are experts on handling employee injury claims because they rarely happen. But here are five basic steps to perform when a significant injury occurs. Sooner or later, this will happen to you as a business owner.
Rendering First Aid
First Aid is the immediate attention that may include applying pressure to a wound or cold water to a burn. It should be administered as quickly as possible but only within your capabilities. With some injuries, such as a slip/trip and fall, you may simply need to immobilize the employee until medical help arrives. Make sure you have a First Aid kit relative to the number of people working in the building. In the event of a mass incident, you need supplies for many workers injured.
Obtaining Medical Aid
Medical Aid can be as immediate as an ambulance or taking the employee to a medical facility for a less traumatic injury. Make sure the employee is up for a car ride before taking that responsibility. Have a designated facility in advance. There are many “industrial medical” facilities staffed by experts in worker injuries of all types. You can set up an account in advance although you may never need it. Having this set up in advance with your Worker’s Comp insurance on file will speed things up on arrival and streamline the reporting and case management process. Make sure you set orders for mandatory drug and alcohol testing on all employees seeking medical attention. Employees do have the option of going to their own medical doctors or facilities of their choice.
Document The Claim
Once the employee has been tended to, start documenting the accident by taking photos of the work area, even if you think this isn’t relevant. A claim was once averted when an employee claimed a slip and fall. A photo of the area with the employee sitting on a chair revealed his brown jacket had no dust on it, although the floor was covered in dust. Obtain witness statements, document the time of the incident, and complete the “Employer’s First Report of Injury Form” or sometimes called, “Employer’s Accident Report,” available from your Worker’s Comp insurance carrier.
Report the Claim
Once you have obtained all the documentation, call your insurance carrier to make the report. You will provide all the information from your documentation including the witness information and contact phone numbers for witnesses. Forward all photos and documentation received from ambulance companies, medical personnel etc. You also may need to report the injury to local, state or federal authorities depending upon your location and the nature of the injury. The most common agency to investigate employee injuries is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Contact your local OSHA office to determine if the level of injury requires a report. In many cases, if you use an industrial medicine doctor, the doctor’s office will file the report with OSHA or other officials by using a form called, “Doctor’s First Report of Injury.”
Manage the Claim
Contact your employee 24 hours after the incident to check on his or her status. At the conclusion of the doctor’s visit, the employee will be given a “work status” form stating the date of return to work and any workplace limits. The sooner your employee gets back to work, the simpler your claims process. Upon making your claim, you will be provided with a claims adjuster and a claim number. Make sure you update the adjuster each time the employee brings a change in status to you. These documents should be kept in the employee’s file. The adjuster will pay all bills that you, the employee or the doctor submit. You will not have to worry about any out-of-pocket expense.
We suggest you print out this article and put it with your Worker’s Comp claims forms for future reference.