25 Nov

If you are an employer that is covered by workers’ compensation insurance, then what are your responsibilities if an employee has an injury by accident or occupational disease within the scope of his or her employment?  If you or the supervisor does not directly witness the occurrence, then, by law, the employee has 30 days to turn in written notice of the accident.  “Written notice” is not a very good defense, however, because the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation tends to be fairly liberal on that issue.  In fact, the entire body of workers’ compensation law is to be liberally construed in favor of the employee. Your first obligation is to notify your carrier and provide a panel of 3 physicians for the employee to choose from for treatment.  The bills for the treatment are not to be sent to the employee, but instead they are sent to the carrier. During the scope of treatment, a number of things can occur.  The physician may give the employee a set of medical restrictions.  If you have a “light duty” job that pays the employee the same wages, then you can offer that to the employee and avoid paying Temporary Total Disability.  You are not required to have a job that meets the employee’s medical restrictions.  In other words, you don’t have to make up one.  Which subject leads into the issues of average weekly wage and disability. There is partial disability, temporary total disability, permanent disability and permanent total disability.  Temporary partial disability is when the employee is able to work but at a position that pays less wages than his or her average weekly wage.  It is the employer’s responsibility to determine “average weekly wages.”  By law, you take 52 weeks of work wages and divide them by 52 to reach the average weekly wage.  A lot of times, the employee has not worked 52 weeks for your company.  Then, by case law, you take the number of weeks the employee has worked and do the same thing.  Traditionally, 13 weeks has been a cutoff point.  This is not a constant.  However, if the employee has worked less that 13 weeks, you may be required to provide the wages of a “comparable” employee.  If the employee is making less than the average weekly wage, then you are responsible for 66 2/3 percent of the difference.  Temporary Total Disability is when the employee cannot work at any job for you.  Then you are required to pay the employee 66 2/3 percent of his or her average weekly wage until he or she recovers and is able to do a job that pays the same.  I will cover the other “disability” issues in the next Part.

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