When an injury happens at work, the first step for an employer is to ensure the employee gets appropriate emergency medical care if needed.
Once the employee is safe and comfortable, it is crucial that employers collect detailed and thorough information about the incident as soon as possible. The steps below are good starting points for employers when dealing with workplace injuries.
(1) Contact Your Carrier: Immediately contact your insurance carrier to report the work injury. If your insurance carrier requires you to do so, complete a Form 19.
(2) Interview the Employee: Interview the injured worker to find out all details of the incident. A thorough initial investigation will be critical to defending meritless claims, so document these conversations.
(3) Talk to Witnesses: Ask the injured worker about all witnesses to the incident. Interview all witnesses to the injury to find out what they know about the allegations of the injured worker. Obtain written statements from those witnesses keeping in mind that the most credible written witness statements are written by the individual who witnessed the incident, not human resources or a supervisor.
(4) Preserve Evidence: Retrieve and save a copy of any video footage that may have captured the injury. If there is no video footage, document this fact instead. Take pictures of the scene of the injury including any relevant machinery or other materials pertinent to the same. The most helpful pictures are taken as quickly as possible after the injury is alleged to have occurred. Other ways to preserve evidence include having the employee diagram the incident when it’s relevant and always inspect the scene for physical evidence.
Work place accidents may catch us unaware, but they don’t need to catch us unprepared. The suggestions above are just a starting point for handling and investigating your potential workers’ compensation claim. The North Carolina Industrial Commission also has a page dedicated to resources for employers. If you have any questions, it is always best to contact your attorney.