When an employee experiences an on-the-job injury, depending on the severity of the injury, sometimes employers will question whether they should file a claim with their insurance provider. This question typically stems from experience with insurance in general and an assumption that if they file too many claims, costs will increase.
With workers’ compensation insurance, it is not the claim that drives costs, but rather the treatment of the injury and the employee’s lost time from work.
The only way you can eliminate costs associated with on-the-job injuries is to implement protocols to prevent accidents in the first place. Reporting the claim ensures that it will be handled by an experienced professional who will work on your behalf to lower any associated costs with the claim.
Seven reasons why you should always file your workers’ compensation claims quickly
- The law requires it.
- Late filing can subject you to penalties.
- Delayed reporting may affect the coverage provided.
- Claims do not improve over time; late reporting always leads to higher cost, usually due to litigation.
- Higher anticipated cost results in higher reserves.
- Late investigation of a claim leads to loss of information, forgetfulness, loss of witnesses, an inability to recover items for subrogation purposes, and more.
- It is difficult to defend a claim without the items listed in #6, which ultimately leads to a non-favorable outcome with the courts.
Not reporting minor injuries can have major implications for employers
In most cases, a scratch or minor injury that requires no medical treatment is tempting not to report. For minor scratches, first aid treatment is likely sufficient, at the discretion of the employer.
However, speaking as a claims professional with 30 years of experience, I can assure you there is no such thing as a "minor" back claim. If an employee complains of minor back, neck, shoulder pain and there is no investigation, no medical history, or no record of whether they have prior claims related to this pain, this can become a very serious exposure for employers under the Longshore Act. If the employer does not report the claim, they could lose one major defense.
Prescription of a claim can only occur when a claim is filed with the U.S. Department of Labor and an OWCP number is assigned. Once filed, the clock begins to tick, and if one year passes and there was no active pursuit of the claim, your insurance provider can offer a defense that the claim was prescribed.
Reporting of claims is imperative to controlling claim cost both from the medical side and the indemnity side. Delaying any claim report could expose the employer to a very serious claim with excessive costs. It is always better to err on the side of caution when reporting claims, as the cost of reporting is much less than not reporting at all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frank Moreau is a Claims Supervisor with The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. He has more than 30 years of experience handling Louisiana State, Mississippi State, USL&H, international Defense Base Act claims, and Foreign Voluntary Compensation. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Arlington. Frank is a licensed adjuster in Louisiana.