Interpretation of State’s Regulations Concerning Employer Responsibility for Workers’ Comp to Former Employees Re-Injured Due to Past On-the-Job Injury at Issue
November 3, 2010 — The ‘Long Tail’ of On-the-Job Injuries by Maura C. Ciccarelli in Human Resource Executive OnLine quotes Rebecca Shafer in a discussion an employer workers’ comp liability in on-the-job injuries of former employees when they develop new injuries based on:
“The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that a man’s former employer is responsible for a 2007 medical condition because it was related to treatment for a 1993 workplace injury. While that already is the situation in some states, it is not in others — although their courts or regulatory agencies may start seeing claims with such arguments popping up.”
At issue was the interpretation of the state’s regulations concerning compensable injuries. The Court decisions went back and forth – not compensable; compensable; overturned and finally ruled compensable.
The Court said even though the original injury took place 15 years ago when the worker was disabled due to a workplace injury, his current hernia caused by a malfunctioning electrical spinal-cord stimulator was compensable injury and his former employer must pay.
Shafer said for HR professionals who manage their company’s workers’ comp program, it’s important to know that such extensions of coverage are not unusual. It surprises HR managers working on workers’ comp because it doesn’t seem like original injury and why should [they] be charged for that?
Shafer points out that paying attention to such longer-term claims can control costs.
There’s a huge subrogation issue on this claim because it seems to be a faulty device she said. The HR manager should ask the insurance company if they are going to [try to recover the legal and medical costs] against the device manufacturer. A lot of times it’s the employer that ends up paying for these types of things.
Following claims closely and checking with the insurer about recovering costs is an extra step that involves a lot of work, but in the end, it will control workers’ comp costs, Shafer says.
Shafer said this case is a good illustration for getting management commitment to get a zero accident program, adding it’s wise to stay in periodic contact with an employee to see how things are going, either through the HR office or a medical director.
If [the employer] had been in touch surely the employee would have mentioned the side effects and the hernia injury may have been avoided, she concluded.
Read the complete article The ‘Long Tail’ of On-the-Job Injuries in Human Resource Executive OnLine. (Opens in new window.)
About Rebecca Shafer
Rebecca Shafer is an attorney and risk consultant who has been helping employers decrease their workers’ comp cost for 20+ years. She has worked with retail, manufacturing, airlines, media/newspapers, healthcare, distribution facilities, and many other types of organizations. She can be reached at 860-553-6604 or by email, RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com. www.LowerWC.com
About Workers’ Comp Kit®
Amaxx Risk Solutions hosts the website ReduceYourWorkersComp.com, which publishes The Workers’ Comp Kit®, a comprehensive workers’ comp cost-containment resource for employers. The Workers’ Comp Kit® is an easy-to-use assessment and implementation materials to ensure success. The application is a best-in-business process based on 25 years of experience of lowering workers’ compensation costs while improving overall program efficiency. For more information, contact Rebecca Shafer, 860-553-6604, info@WorkersCompKit.com.
For more information, contact Rebecca Shafer, 860-553-6604, info@WorkersCompKit.com.