As a business owner, you try your best to create a safe environment that prevents on-the-job injuries, but sometimes an injured worker is just out of your hands.
As you likely know, after acquiring emergency care for such an employee, you need to report the injury to your insurance company and the state within a set period of time.
But your obligations don't end here--you may be required to take (or not take) further action under your state's workers' compensation laws.
First and foremost, it is your duty to cooperate with the state and your insurance company as to not hold up your employee's claim. While this includes providing documentation in a timely manner, it may not include talking to the employee's attorney without permission from your insurer.
Workers' compensation laws also prevent you from taking retaliatory actions against an injured worker who files a claim. This includes negative treatment and commentary, not cooperating as explained above, and, in most cases, dismissal from the job.
You may also be responsible for making any requested reasonable accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes restructuring a work area so that it's ergonomically friendly and allowing an employee to attend appointments or work different hours.
In some states you may also have to offer rehabilitation services.
Because workers' compensation laws do vary by state, it might be wise to consult with a local attorney so that you have a better understanding of your obligations, and so that you can have a plan in place should you be faced with an injured worker.
- Workers' Compensation for Employers (FindLaw)
- Workers' Compensation - FAQ (FindLaw)
- Small Business Workers' Compensation: 5 Things to Know (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)