What do small business owners need to know about filing a workers’ comp claim?
One of the biggest joys of entrepreneurship is building an organization where you can provide jobs for people in the local community. While no business owner wants to think about their employees getting injured on the job, the truth is that there is no surefire way to prevent workplace accidents.
Even employees in certain industries that lend themselves to less strenuous work, such as accounting, sales, and IT, can experience injuries. Since it’s impossible to prevent an accident from happening, it’s essential you understand your role as a business owner in the workers’ compensation process.
The following guide will provide a quick overview of workers’ compensation and your responsibilities throughout the insurance claim process.
What is workers’ comp insurance?
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that offers employers protection in case a team member suffers an injury or illness in the workplace. Most injured employees will receive benefits such as:
- Lost wage reimbursement
- Medical expense coverage
- Rehabilitation coverage
- Disability benefits
- Death and funeral benefits
What responsibilities does the business owner have in the workers’ comp claim process?
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to provide a safe working environment for all your employees. However, if an accident occurs, you’re also responsible for filing the workers’ comp claim so the injured worker can receive the benefits they qualify for.
Typically, once a workplace injury or illness occurs, there’s only a short window to report the injury to your state’s Workers’ Compensation Department. Failing to alert the appropriate officials can ultimately result in the workers’ comp benefits being denied.
Understanding the workers’ comp claims process
The actual workers’ compensation claims process will vary from state to state, so check with your State Workers’ Compensation Division when filing a claim. However, the following steps will provide a framework for what you need to know and do when an employee suffers an injury or illness.
Important steps small business owners should take when filing a workers’ comp claim
Before an injury:
- Educate all team members on workers’ compensation injury and illness reporting requirements
- Outline who an employee should report an incident to and how that report should be handled
When an injury occurs:
- Ensure the injured employee receives immediate medical care—call 911 if it is an emergency
- Complete the injury/illness report and file it with your organization’s workers’ compensation carrier—within 24 hours of the injury if possible
- Keep communication open with the workers’ compensation carrier and the injured employee
- When appropriate, establish a timeline for returning to work
- Support the injured employee as they transition back into their role within the organization
Can an employee be terminated due to a work-related injury?
Several states have anti-retaliation laws that make it impossible for an employer to terminate an employee for missing work due to a work-related injury or illness. Other states have similar laws but allow employers to release workers if they meet specific criteria.
The best way to understand whether you can terminate an employee with a work-related injury is by discussing the state laws with a legal expert.
Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As best practices change regularly, you should refer to your trusted advisor for specific counsel. Learn more about workplace safety or check your workers’ comp rate in 3 minutes.