Law suits can be a long and confusing process. Workers’ compensation law and claims are no exception. The fact that the process does not typically operate like a typical lawsuit makes it even more convoluted and obscure to the typical person off the street. This can really add to the stress and confusion experienced by the people involved in a workers’ compensation suit. A basic understanding of the process can help reduce stress and help you manage the process more efficiently.
The first thing that will happen must be the initial claim. After a worker sustains a work-related injury, he or she will need to make a detailed and accurate account of the related injury. The employer should also take reasonable steps to make sure the report is truthful and complete. This includes determining if there were witnesses to the event. If there were witnesses, the employer should be meticulous about gathering and maintaining written statements, and providing all of this information to the attorney responsible for defending and managing the workers’ compensation claim on the business’s behalf.
After the insurance company receives the statement, an investigator may be sent out to examine the circumstances of the injury. The investigation will most likely include an on-site survey of the injury site but also an inquiry into the medical records of the injured worker. The investigation will need to look into the extent of the injury and whether it is long term or short term. These issues will obviously have a large impact on the nature, amount, and duration of the benefits awarded to the injured worker. Following an investigation, there will likely also be an exchange of documents and information that is referred to as “discovery.” During discovery, both the employer and the employee must exchange certain requested information, including medical records, employer reports, witness lists, and other pertinent material.
After the investigation, if the claim is still disputed, it may go before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. The WCAB will hear the evidence from both sides. The board can then make a decision about whether the injured worker will receive benefits and for how long. If either the employer or the employee disagrees with the results, it is possible to appeal the finding to a higher court.
If your business is facing a workers’ compensation dispute, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Contact me today at (714) 252-7078 to discuss your business and your case.