Good communication between employers and employees is essential for producing a positive working environment. This becomes especially important when an employee is injured on the job.
Employers in both Missouri and Kansas are required by law to provide their employees with workers’ compensation insurance, but some employers fail to communicate with their workers about the basics of the program, and make it difficult for injured workers to collect the benefits to which they're entitled.
Whether you are an employer looking to improve your relationship with employees or an employee who's struggling to get a workers’ comp claim approved, we provide these tips for paving the way towards a smooth claims process.
What Employers Should Do
A successful workers’ compensation program depends on employers creating a safe working environment and ensuring that their employees know what to do if they're injured. Companies are required by law to take certain steps to provide employees with information, but employers with successful programs do at least some of the following in addition:
- Explain workers’ compensation coverage during initial job and safety training. This should include a clear statement of the process for reporting a work injury.
- Make the physical demands of a particular job clear during the hiring process and ensure that candidates are capable of meeting the demands.
- Address unsafe practices immediately, rather than waiting until an injury occurs.
- Investigate after an injury, including talking to the injured employee and witnesses, preserving surveillance video, and taking photos.
- Report all claims immediately.
- Stay in communication with injured employees who are off work to recover. It's important for employees to know that employers care about their recovery.
- Make copies of any paperwork from the employee, including medical reports, and forward them to a claims representative.
- Allow the claims representative to communicate with the worker—particularly when delivering difficult news. After all, the benefits decisions are made by the insurance company, not the employer, so there's no need to jeopardize a relationship with an employee by getting in the middle of it.
While workers’ compensation insurance does cost companies money, it's required by law, so employers should provide easy access for their employees and support their legitimate claims. When employers establish good communication, provide a safe environment, and educate employees about the worker’s comp process, everybody wins.
What Workers’ Comp Covers
Both employers and employees should understand the benefits provided by workers’ compensation insurance. In both Kansas and Missouri, workers’ comp covers the following:
- Coverage for medical care. This includes all costs for authorized medical treatment, prescriptions, and medical devices. There isn't a deductible, and all costs are paid by the employer or its workers’ comp insurance company.
- Payment for lost wages. If a doctor confirms that an employee is unable to return to work because of his injuries, the employee is entitled to partial payment for his lost wages until he's able to return to work. The benefits provided are calculated at 66 2/3 percent of a worker’s average weekly wage, not to exceed a maximum amount set by law. The average weekly wage is based on gross wages. The duration of these benefits depend upon the extent of the injuries.
- Additional payment for occupational diseases (Missouri only). Effective January 01, 2014, workers’ comp provides for some enhanced weekly payments if it's proven that an employee is permanently, totally disabled or has died due to one or more occupational diseases as a result of toxic exposure.
- Survivor benefits. If a worker dies on the job, his family may be entitled to survivor benefits under workers’ compensation.
In some cases, such as with injuries sustained in a work-related car accident, other insurance policies may also come into play.
When You Might Need a Workers’ Comp Attorney
When employers and employees agree to clear expectations and communicate effectively, a workers’ comp claim should progress to everyone’s satisfaction.
However, when there's a breakdown in communication, or an employer simply doesn’t understand his obligation to keep his workers safe, an employee may need the help of an experienced workers’ comp attorney. Call Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys if you are in this situation. We advocate for workers and get them the benefits they deserve.