What employers don’t understand about workers compensation

Michigan workers compensation lawyer addresses employer mistakes and provides candid advice about claims handling from the plaintiff’s perspective.

Great blog post from Robert Wilson, President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, regarding the mistakes that employers make with their workers compensation claims. Bob recently attended a claims management session at RIMS 2012 where presenters gave a talk entitled “The Top Ten Things an Employer Can Do to Mess Up a Workers’ Compensation Claim.”

If you have read any of Bob’s other blog posts, you know that he has a great sense of humor. His bottom line advice is “if you are known for giving your employees the bird, give that injured worker the bird as well.” We take this to mean, treat people fairly and don’t discriminate just because of an injury.

His advice echoes our own beliefs as plaintiff attorneys. Specifically, that employers can actually save money on claims by treating their injured employees better. Here are three ways that we see employers screw up claims and how they cause unnecessary litigation.

1. No communication, miscommunication, strange communication

We frequently get telephone calls from individuals who are hurt on-the-job and have no idea what is happening with their claim. They are kept in the dark and are not sure if benefits will actually be paid. This is usually their first experience with workers compensation and all it does is create additional stress and mistrust. This is especially true when they get cryptic telephone calls from insurance companies and TPAs.

If benefits are going to be delayed because of a claims investigation, let the employee know what is happening. Give him or her a chance to resolve any inconsistencies or secure additional medical proof. Many issues can be avoided by simply involving the employee in the claims process.

Remember that you are dealing with a person. Loss of income can be devastating for their family. Treating your employee with a little kindness and dignity will go a long way to help avoid litigation.

2. The doctor will not see you now

One of the most important benefits under workers compensation is access to medical care.  Michigan law requires that an employer provide all reasonable and necessary medical treatment for a work-related injury.

Do not ignore workplace injuries or refuse to let your employees see a doctor. Employers are given sole authority to select the medical provider during the first twenty-eight days after an injury. This control should be used wisely and always for the benefit of the employee.

The vast majority of individuals who contact our office just want to get better and return to work. This cannot be accomplished if reasonable and necessary medical treatment is denied.

3. No work (or soup) for you!

Michigan law requires the payment of wage loss benefits if an employee is disabled from work. The amount paid will be approximately 60% of gross pay. No one gets rich from workers compensation and most people struggle just to survive.

Consider offering “favored work” to avoid paying wage loss benefits.  This is  work within your employee’s restrictions that poses no threat to health and safety. Resist the temptation to offer a demeaning job that involves little more than staring at an empty parking lot.  Give your employee the chance to be productive for your business despite his or her limitations.

The sooner your employee gets back to work after an injury, the less likely he or she will file a case seeking extended benefits. You can avoid a great deal of litigation by simply honoring restrictions and offering a real chance to be useful. You may also find this translates into better company morale and harder working employees.

Finding the right balance

So many of the cases that we file could have been avoided if the employer provided access to medical care and some work accommodations. There are always going to be some bad apples who will try to exploit the system for financial gain and you should fight those claims.  But remember that work injuries are going to happen and doing the right thing can be a smart business decision.

To speak with one of our workers compensation lawyers in Michigan, call (855) 221-2667 for a free telephone consultation. We fight to make sure that you receive all the benefits you deserve.

Alex Berman is the founder of Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers. He’s been representing injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years.  Alex has helped countless people obtain workers comp benefits and never charges a fee to evaluate a case.

Related information:

Top 5 misconceptions about workers compensation in Michigan

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