Every employer should be prepared to conduct their own on the spot workplace injury investigation. In cases of serious injury, or injuries of a questionable nature, early intervention by the employer is essential. By being proactive, an employer can more readily reduce their liability to exposure by preventing a situation from spiraling out of control rather than engaging in a costly court action.
The main reasons to investigate are:
- This is your only opportunity to conduct your own discovery into the cause or legitimacy of the injury while the incident is fresh.
- Allows you to obtain the witness versions of the incident before details are forgotten, in some instances to prevent possible deception or collusion.
- Provides the best opportunity to understand the underlying cause of the incident and to make an informed management decision.
Understanding How to Conduct an Investigation
Every investigation is really nothing more than a step-by-step logical process. You are best served to have specific individuals designated to perform the investigation.
Your purpose as an investigator will be to determine whether the alleged workplace injury had a casual connection with the worker’s employment. You want to know whether the worker was exposed to a particular danger or possibly some other risk peculiar to the Worker’s Compensation actions at the time of the alleged injury.
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Scurich Insurance Services
A Member of United Valley Insurance Services
P.O. Box 1170
Watsonville, Ca 95077-1170
Ph# 831-722-3541 Ext. 15
Although Workers Comp policies go by the official name of “Workers Compensation and Employers Liability,” it’s easy to overlook the “Employers Liability’ coverage, which protects your business against liability arising from physical injury and occupational illness claims that Workers Comp doesn’t cover. The Employers Liability section resembles a Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy, defending the employer against claims and paying the employee, dependents, or others in cases of employer negligence.
Consider these types of claims:
- Action-Over: Let’s assume that Curbside Concrete’s employee is injured in an accident while driving a company mixer and sues the other driver, who then sues Curbside, arguing that a defect in its truck caused the accident. Employees who use tools are especially prone to filing claims of this type: the employee sues the manufacturer of a tool that injured them on the job. The manufacturer then counter-sues the employer for negligence in failing to supervise the employees on the safe use of its tool.
- Loss of Consortium: A seriously injured or dead employee might have a relative or spouse who sues the firm for the resulting loss of normal relations with the disabled or deceased companion. This absence can affect a son or daughter with a mother or father who can no longer fulfill the proper role of a parent, as well as someone whose spouse’s sexual function has diminished.
- Consequential Bodily Injury: A worker’s injury has an adverse on one of their relatives. For example, after Joe suffers an injury on the job, his sister must now quit her job to drive him to the occupational therapist every day.
- Dual Capacity: A firm faces a suit beyond its role as the injured worker’s employer. Mike, the building maintenance worker, is injured while installing a basketball hoop in the company gym by a drill manufactured by his employer, Dynamic Drill, Inc. He files a suit against Dynamic as creator of the tool, not as the employer. A dual capacity claim allows Mike to circumvent the prohibition under Workers Compensation law against suing his employer.
These workplace occurrences are not far-fetched. Our Risk Management professionals would be happy to provide a thorough review of your Workers Comp policy to make sure that you have the protection you need.