Mistakes happen all the time, but when it comes to workers’ compensation claims, these mistakes can prove costly and can end up delaying the recovery of benefits for the injured employee. What are some of the more common mistakes that occur when documenting the workplace accident?
We have asked lawyer Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:
Failing to Investigate the Incident
As soon as the injury occurs, the employee must notify the employer regarding what happened. After this notification is made, it is up to the employer to immediately investigate the accident.
A common mistake that can cause issues in terms of documenting the workplace accident is failing to follow through with an investigation after this initial notification is made.
Not Being Thorough in the Investigation
Another common mistake that can be made in the investigation is not being thorough in the investigation process itself. This failure can come from not interviewing the key witnesses who saw what occurred, not reviewing important documents needed, and ignoring any issues that come up during the investigation.
If the employer does not make a proper investigation and this results in a denial of workers’ compensation benefits, the employee can come back at the employer and show through expert testimony that the investigation was not done properly, and this resulted in him or her being denied benefits that are otherwise rightfully deserved.
Lack of Objectivity
Obviously, the employer is not going to want to pay out of pocket for expenses, but this does not mean that the employer should go into the process not in an objective manner. However, when making the investigation, the employer must go into the process with no personal bias and objectively. If the employer puts personal feelings into the investigation, he or she may be accused of being discriminatory in the investigation.
The investigation must not only be unbiased, but it must also be confidential. One of the worst things an employer can do when conducting the investigation is to taint the evidence by sharing information that should not otherwise be shared.
For example, if more than one witness saw the accident occur, it would hurt the process if the employer told one witness what the other witness said. This could bias the second witness in what he or she tells the employer that was witnessed.
Poor Collection of Evidence
In addition, the employer needs to make sure the evidence is properly collected. One way to ensure it is protected is to make sure that the subject of the investigation does not have access to the evidence after it is collected. The employer needs to properly preserve the documents or other evidence that is collected so that it cannot be tainted or even destroyed.
A proper chain of custody will need to be shown once evidence is collected, documenting who collected it, how it was stored, and who handled it, transported it and more.
If the case ends up going to trial after a denial and certain evidence is admitted to allow the judge make the right decision, the issue of chain of custody will be important as it must be shown that the evidence has not been contaminated since being removed from the scene of the accident.
Jumping to Conclusions
The employer’s responsibility is to collect the evidence, not make conclusions from the evidence as it is collected.
Once the evidence is collected, it is up to the workers’ compensation provider to assess what happened in making the determination on whether the claim will be accepted or denied. The most important duty placed on the employer, however, is making sure that all of the needed evidence is collected so that the right decision can be made.
While the evidence is being collected, it can be a disastrous mistake if the employer begins making assumptions about what is needed and what is not to reach a certain conclusion that the employer believes is the correct one. Leave the decision-making for the insurance provider and be sure to collect all that is needed to get to that point.
Contact a Lawyer Today
If you are in the process of pursuing workers’ compensation and have questions about filing your claim, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help review your case and discuss your options. A lawyer can listen to the facts of the case and can best advise you on how to proceed.
Contact a lawyer experienced in workers’ compensation law to schedule a consultation today.