Employer responsibilities with regards to workers’ compensation claims

West Virginia employers know that workplace injuries are a serious issue. There are certain procedures that employers should follow when an employee is injured on the job. In order to ensure a smooth workers' compensation claim process, the employer must fulfill certain responsibilities.

Worker's compensation insurance coverage

Purchasing workers' compensation coverage is mandatory for most employers in West Virginia. Employers may obtain workers compensation insurance through a state fund or in some cases, may self-insure. Failure to provide coverage may result in a number of serious penalties such as criminal prosecution, fines, lawsuits or even personal liability of an employer for any benefits owed to the injured employee.

Although specific workers' compensation laws vary by state, there are general guidelines that employers nationwide must follow. First, it is important to remember that the primary responsibility of every employer is to provide employees with a safe workplace.

In addition, employees must be informed that they are covered by their employer under applicable workers' compensation laws. Notice of compliance with workers' compensation laws must be available in a visible location at every job location.

What to do if an employee is injured

When an employee injury occurs, employers must file a First Report of Injury. This is a complete record of the injury that must be sent to the nearest workers' compensation board office.

Employers must also cooperate with the injured employee and any attorneys involved. Items such as the employee's payroll history and personnel file are normally requested. An attorney may also wish to speak with employee's supervisor.

It is important for employers to fulfill any requests in a timely manner, but it is not necessary to provide documents to anyone besides the employee or his or her attorney. Additionally, employers should inform the workers' compensation carrier and its attorney of any document requests as soon as possible.

Perhaps most importantly, employers should always provide necessary medical attention to an injured employee. Employers should not hinder an injured employee's ability to seek all appropriate medical assistance because doing so is a potential violation of the law as well as the employee's rights.

Employers cannot retaliate against injured employees

Workers' compensation laws are beneficial to employers as well as employees because they are designed to be the only method by which employees may seek compensation for injuries sustained on the job. Despite this, it is not uncommon for employers to discriminate against injured employees who file workers' compensation claims.

It is important to not treat an employee who files a workers' compensation claim in a negative manner. This is limited not only to termination but also to demotions or salary reductions.

An injured employee is protected from retaliatory types of actions immediately after the injury as well as after filing a workers' compensation claim. If an employee believes that he or she is facing discrimination because of filing a claim, he or she may file a retaliatory discharge claim.

An employer dealing with a workers' compensation claim can benefit from talking to an experienced workers compensation attorney. The attorney can provide valuable guidance as well as assist with developing a comprehensive strategy for proceeding in an efficient and amicable manner.