Work comp operates under certain presumptions, one of which is that unless an employer provides information to the contrary there is a near certainty that the workers will have every issue resolved, eventually, in their favor. Even if the information is provided it may be arriving too late to change a judge’s opinion about a claim, if the other side gets its info in first. And there remains the nagging question about why an employer would withhold information that was to its advantage.
The answers lie in the fact that most employers, after they complete a report of injury, think the active role is over. Surely, the carrier or Board will inform them if more is needed.
Almost always, much more IS needed and the employer is the best and/or the ONLY source of such information. But if no one asks, why should the employer volunteer information? Silence in such cases is golden – but not for the employer.
An employer must first realize that every comp claim belongs to it and it alone. A carrier is paid to assist and is a surety for payment – but all expenses will ultimately be borne by the employer – sooner, later and often both.
An employer is not expected to be an expert in comp law or procedure – but they can and should be curious and concerned. Calling the carrier and discussing what documents are available that shed light on an employee’s past known history of claims and injuries or illness is invaluable to a defense, especially if the documents are sent ahead to the carrier in a timely fashion. “Timely,” in this case, means as soon as possible.
A Roman poet once wrote: “words are treacherous companions, but silence is a faithful friend.” Very true, but the poet was writing for the benefit of someone who had something to hide. In work comp, silence is the best friend an incorrect decision against an employer could ever have.
Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, New York. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans, and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100.
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