How well an employer handles workplace injuries is important to getting injured workers the care they need and expect while minimizing the cost of claims. Although each situation is unique, an employer should generally take the following steps upon receiving notice that an employee has been injured on the job or sustained an occupational disease:
- Provide the injured employee with any necessary emergency medical attention, which should include drug testing.
- Immediately after receiving notice of a work injury, furnish the injured employee with a panel of at least 3 physicians from which the employee may select an authorized treating physician. The 3 physicians cannot be in the same practice group. The physicians on the panel must be willing to treat workers’ compensation patients and be accepting patients at the time the injured employee seeks medical treatment. The employee should mark his/her selection, sign, and date the form.
- Interview and obtain written statements from all reported witnesses of the accident or occupational disease.
- Immediately complete the Employer’s Accident Report and send it to the insurance carrier to be filed with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission within 10 days after the occurrence of the accident/occupational disease and knowledge of the injury. The Employer’s Accident Report form can be obtained from the Commission’s web-site.
- Send copies of completed employee, supervisor, and witness interview statements to the insurance carrier.
- Contact the injured employee within 24 hours post-injury regarding the employee’s medical condition and return to work capabilities.
- Complete a Wage Statement for the injured employee, which lists the employee’s wages 52 weeks before the accident. Overtime pay should be included. The 52 weeks before the injury by accident are used to calculate the employee’s average weekly wage to approximate the economic loss sustained by the employee. The Wage Statement form can also be obtained from the Commission’s web-site.
- Create a workers’ compensation file for the injured employee, including copies of all related documents and medical records.
By following this checklist, an employer can minimize exposure to unwarranted claims and expenses.