When an Employee Refuses Workers’ Compensation Treatment

Based on the location of your business, many workers’ compensation laws require employers to take certain steps when a worker is injured. Depending on the state, there are specific timelines to follow and forms to complete. But what if an injured worker refuses treatment or does not want to file a claim? What are your responsibilities? While the exact legal answer depends on your situation and state laws, consider the following to limit your liability.

When You Notice An Injury

If you notice that an employee is injured, gently bring it up and discuss the injury with the employee to determine if it was job-related. Many state workers’ compensation statutes obligate employers to report injuries as soon as they have knowledge of them. Delay in reporting the injury could result in much more costly claims. Completing the paperwork to report injuries is not an admission of your liability – on the contrary, it could protect you.

In the Case of Refusal

When you discuss the injury with the employee, explain that reporting job-related injuries entitles injured workers to certain benefits while recovering from the injury. If the employee does not wish to file a claim, file the employer’s portion of the report with a statement of refusal to pursue a claim signed by the employee. It is crucial that you document this conversation to protect your organization from penalties in the future. Employees that initially report injuries but then refuse treatment should sign a similar form confirming this refusal.

Benefits for Employees that Refuse Treatment

Workers’ compensation statutes vary by state. However, in most cases, workers’ compensation benefits are suspended for employees that refuse a reasonable request for examination or refuse to accept medical attention. Benefits may not be payable for this period of refusal of treatment – check with your workers’ compensation carrier.

What to Do Now

It is important to prepare for an eventual employee’s refusal of treatment for a workplace injury. All employers should have a legal representative draft a form for refusal of treatment that complies with state requirements so it is available when needed. Discuss with supervisors the importance of documenting and reporting all injuries, whether or not the worker chooses to report them.

Workers’ compensation insurance is obligatory in most states. Contact us for more information.

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