My employee just hurt himself, how should I proceed from here and what steps should I take to protect my employee and mount a viable workers compensation defense?

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Answered by: Keith, An Expert in the Business Security - General Category
You just had an employee hurt himself at your company while doing his or her job. What steps should you take now? Your first concern should be your injured employee but you also want to protect your company from unnecessary workers compensation claims.

No matter how small or how large the injury is the average workers compensation claim in this country is $90,000. To this end you should immediately start building a workers compensation defense. Assuming you do not already have a company policy to follow, you should, at the very least, follow these simple steps because it is very likely you are headed for a workman's compensation claim.

First, focus on the employee and his or her injury. If there's any doubt in your mind that the injury requires an ambulance call one immediately. If not, begin to gather information concerning the injury immediately even if the injury is minor. First have the employee write down or dictate to you how and where the injury occurred. Then take statements from anyone in the vicinity of the accident that may have been a witness. Have the employee sign his description of the accident. All witnesses should sign theirs as well.

Photographs should be taken of the area in which the accident occurred. A measuring tape should be included in most of these photographs to give any future observer a reference point if needed. If the injury is serious enough, immediately take the employee to see a doctor of your choice if possible. Regardless of what doctor the employee sees, the doctor should perform a drug test at this point.

Now you should have in place all of the documentation you may need should this injury go into a workman's compensation claim. If the worker decides to file a workman's compensation claim you will receive a letter from your perspective state informing you of this and at this point you will need to decide whether you wish to offer a Workmen's Compensation defense or not. If you decide to fight the claim it will go before a panel with a judge. At this point, it is advisable to have a lawyer on your side.

The people who show up at this hearing will be the employee and his lawyer, you and your lawyer, and the judge. The judge will address the employee and asked what happened. The employee will give his side of the story and very likely will have no documentation to back it up. You, on the other hand will have photographs, and signed statements both from the employee and the witnesses, and the doctors records. If the employee's story does not match what he wrote down at the time of the incident his word will be thrown into doubt.

After the judge hears his story he will ask for yours. This is where you can enter and read the statements the employee and the witnesses gave at the time of the accident. This will be favorable for you. The fact that you got your employee immediate medical care, the opinion of the doctor, and the results of the drug test should decide the results of the hearing. When the hearing is over, the workers compensation defense will have either been accepted or not--the results of which you will receive by mail.

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