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Ways Employers May Deny Work Comp Claims

Steve Wagner

Last Wednesday’s industrial accident at NLMK Indiana, a specialty steel manufacturer located at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, left three workers injured. The injury was due to an arc flash, when the workers in question were resolving an electric issue in the electric arc furnace melt shop of the factory.

This incident raises the issue of workers’ rights and compensation, when faced with work related injuries.

How does the the injured worker meet treatment expenses, or rather who pays for it? In Indiana, the burden is on the company to provide medical care for work related injuries. Here, NLMK Indiana has discharged this obligation, transporting all three injured to hospital. The matter of compensation would come up after the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOHSA) completes its investigations as to what caused the accident.

Indiana’s Workmen’s Compensation Act requires most businesses to have worker’s compensation insurance. The insurance provides medical and rehabilitation costs related to the injury. It also offers weekly income benefits to those unable to work for more than seven days due to work related injury, besides benefits to dependents in the eventuality of work-related death.

Thankfully their injuries were not life threatening, but they will still have medical bills, recovery, and time off work that they deserve to be compensated for since the injuries were work-related.

In spite of work comp laws, many employers do not carry this insurance coverage in an attempt to cut costs. Even with insurance in place, many companies still try to deny compensation in order to avoid paying out benefits and being charged with increased premiums. Companies have different ways they may try to avoid paying out a claim:

  • The company may cover-up and deny the accident altogether, and claim that the employee sustained injury outside of work.
  • The company may put the blame on the employees, accusing them of being intoxicated, picking up a fight with a co-worker, or hurting themselves on purpose.
  • The company may try to avoid providing compensation on a technical ground, claiming there is no evidence of the worker having reported the injury to the supervisor within thirty days, as is required by law.
  • Though it’s against the law, the company may fire the employee for making a workers compensation claim, citing at-will employment clause.
  • The employer may use pressure-tactics to coerce the injured employee into accepting a settlement for a much lesser amount than the law affords them. The only way to make a claim after settling is by proving that there was fraud involved in the settlement process.

The Workers Compensation Board recommends that the injured employee consult an attorney if they plan to dispute the compensation offered to them, or if they feel that the employer is denying them their rights, according to the Worker’s Compensation Act.

Wagner Reese has a team of highly experienced work comp attorneys, well-versed in all facets of Indiana’s Workers’ Compensation laws. Contact us at (888) 204-8440 for a free consultation. You have nothing to lose by contacting us, as we do not charge any upfront fees.

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