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How to Handle Workplace Injury Claims by Employees?

 

Despite following all the laws and regulations relating to workplace safety, accidents can happen. Even though the accident is not serious, an employee could still sue the company for damages. Here are several brief guidelines on how a small or medium-sized company should deal with workplace accident claims by employees or contractors:

 

Respect the Employee’s Legal Rights

Don’t get aggressively defensive when an employee files an accident claim. As the employer, the business should respect the claim and facilitate the employee’s personal injury lawyers to gather evidence. Doing anything to the contrary would only hurt the company in court, not help it. If it looks like the company is trying to “cover things up” by not cooperating, the plaintiff would only use that against the company in court.

 

Gather Your Own Evidence

As soon as the injury occurs, the company should immediately attend to the site of the accident and provide medical assistance. Most businesses have protocols in place for such situations. After a negligence lawsuit has been filed, the company can use these records to defend itself in court.

The employee’s lawyers would gather evidence to build their case. The business lawyers should do so as well. Revisit the accident site and assess it again. Get witness statements and CCTV recordings if available. The employee’s side would try to prove that the business was negligent and therefore owes compensation. The company would need to provide evidence that supervisors and managers didn’t ignore the duty of care the worker was owed.

 

Get Written Statements

There should be written statements from those responsible for the employee’s welfare to provide to court. Attorneys collect these for depositions. Written statements should ideally be recorded soon after an incident occurs. As lawsuits may not be immediately filed, it’s important to gather statements for all accidents just in case. Keep these documents at hand in case a lawsuit is filed. It’s best if a company develops a procedure to address accidents that includes gathering evidence in case of a lawsuit.

 

Inform Important Parties

Because of lawsuit risks, it’s very important to inform insurance companies and senior management of any accidents that occur at the workplace, even if they are minor. The management shouldn’t find out after a lawsuit has been filed. The upper hierarchy should take the necessary steps to make sure the same accident doesn’t occur twice. Lack of such communication going up the company hierarchy could be interpreted as negligence in court.

 

Protect Other Employees

The business must immediately close off an accident site to protect other employees. If one employee is injured, steps should be taken so that other employees don’t suffer similarly. It’s important to follow this step even for minor accidents. The company should be able to show that it takes worker safety very seriously to avoid paying damages in court.

When the business is facing an accident lawsuit, the company management and attorneys should follow the above steps to reduce legal exposure. In case your legal team is not familiar with such lawsuits, it would be worthwhile to hire an outside expert for valuable advice. Above all, take the necessary steps to prevent a similar incident from occurring again.

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