by Alyssa A. Sloan
West Virginia law provides specific guidance regarding
the reporting of workplace injuries by both employees and employers.
For their part, every employee who sustains a workplace
injury is obligated to provide immediate - or as soon thereafter as practicable
- written notice of the injury to the employer. State regulations in West
Virginia require this, and also provide that immediately after sustaining an
occupational injury, the employee should seek necessary medical care and file a
worker's compensation claim. Immediate notice is notice given within two
(2) working days of the injury.
As an employer, it is important to remember that in order
to properly manage a worker's compensation claim, you should immediately start
your investigation of the incident after you are told of the injury, especially
if you have any reason to question whether a workplace injury actually occurred.
In addition, you should report the injury as soon as you are notified by your
employee that an injury occurred.
Every employer in West Virginia must report every injury
sustained by any employee on the appropriate forms (i.e., the employer's report
of injury). This report of injury must be made within five (5) days of
when the employer receives notice of the injury or within five (5) days of
being notified by the carrier that a claim for benefits has been filed on
account of such injury. The employer's report of injury should include
a statement as to whether or not, on the basis of the information available,
the employer disputes the compensability of the injury or objects to the
payment of temporary total disability benefits in connection with the injury.
If the employer does, in fact, question whether an injury occurred, then the
employer should attach any and all evidence or statements which support that
But what are the warning signs that an employee may not
have actually suffered a workplace injury? Consider the following list of
issues which are often the most suspicious:
of the injury - The employer should examine whether there may be a
coincidence between the employee's injury and a need for that employee's time
off, or if the injury occurred on a Monday morning or after the employee
engaged in strenuous activity over the past weekend;
witnesses to the injury - As indicated above, it is very important to
immediately begin the investigation process once every workplace injury
occurs. Part of that investigation should include obtaining any and all
eye witness statements from those who saw the incident. If there were no
witnesses to the injury, this could be a warning sign that the employee did not
actually suffer a workplace injury;
details regarding the injury/accident - Did the employee give sketchy or
inconsistent descriptions of how the injury actually occurred or is the
employee unwilling to provide information about how the accident
happened? The employee must complete a written report of injury and the
employee's written description should be compared to the details provided to
the employer, treating physician, and/or co-workers;
or unreasonable delay in reporting the injury - If an employee waits a
prolonged amount of time before coming forward about an injury, and/or cannot
provide a supportable explanation as to why he or she took so long to make the
report, it raises a red flag. In that situation, the employer may want to
focus its investigation in that area, especially if there were no witnesses to
Employers who properly report and investigate workplace
injuries are often most successful in effectively managing the claim, if
legitimate, or disputing whether an injury actually occurred, if illegitimate.
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