With the dark clouds of an economic downturn seemingly on the horizon, companies are looking for ways to save money, and develop a cushion in case things really do get worse for them. One of the most expensive parts of any company’s overhead is paying for workers’ compensation insurance. The more workers’ compensation claims a company has in a given year, the higher their workers’ compensation premiums will be in the next year. So, this year particularly, companies are very wary of incurring additional workers’ compensation expenses, which leads them to act in very creative ways to avoid having the claim show up on their books.
Instead of opening up a workers’ compensation claim for their employee who just got injured on the job, many employers will encourage their injured worker to use their company health insurance to pay for all medical bills related to their injury. Some companies even go so far as to help their injured employee get on short-term disability, so that the injured worker has some money coming in while they are out of work. In this scenario, the injury is never reported as workers’ compensation, thus never counts against the company for the purposes of assessing workers’ compensation premiums for the next year. We have heard injured workers tell us that their companies have told them that they “don’t do” workers’ compensation claims, or the company “takes care of everything,” and they have nothing to worry about because their bills are being paid, and they are getting a short, or long-term disability check.
But, the reality is that the injured worker has plenty to worry about. If the injured worker was in an automobile accident on the job, many hospitals will not even file health insurance, instead claiming a lien against the liability insurance company for the driver that caused the accident. The injured worker then has to worry about getting stuck with an expensive hospital bill that is not paid in full! Short-term disability policies may also not cover the injured worker for the time he, or she, is out of work because of their work-related injury. There might not be a long-term disability policy available to the injured worker, or if there is, the transition between the policies is not seamless. Thus, the injured worker may not be getting a weekly check for being hurt on the job like they would if they were on workers’ compensation. For an accepted workers’ compensation claim, the company, or workers’ compensation insurance company, is obligated to pay the injured workers medical bills in full, 2/3 of their average weekly wage while they are written out of work, and a settlement for a permanent injury. So, the only one that benefits from a legitimate workers’ compensation case from being handled this way is – the company! If you are injured on the job, make sure you do what is best for you, and not what is best for your company! Your interests and the company’s interest are not remotely the same, and don’t let them convince you otherwise.
If you have been injured on the job, don’t get an opinion on what you should do from your supervisor, manager, or the human resources department. You need to protect yourself, and the first step in that is calling us! Tippens & Zurosky has knowledgeable, experienced attorneys certified in North Carolina and South Carolina, who focus on workers’ compensation and automobile accidents. Call us at 704-343-0018, for a free consultation. Let us help you!