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Keep daily injury logs to ensure legit workers’ comp claims

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Employees who hurt themselves at work sometimes wait weeks or even months before filing a workers’ compensation claim. What at first seems like a relatively harmless injury can flare into a debilitating condition months later.

Such late claims put employers at a serious disadvantage. After all, a supervisor isn’t likely to remember a minor mishap that happened months ago. The passage of time makes it nearly impossible to investigate what really happened—and the employee may be tempted to exaggerate the incident to win the case.

Guard against such late claims by making sure employees report every injury, no matter how minor. Have them sign off at the end of their shifts, noting any incidents or accidents. That way, employees can’t come back later—as happened in the following case—and claim they reported the incident when they may not have done so. Injury logs can help support a supervisor’s testimony and make it more likely he or she will be believed.

Recent case: Wanda Fipps drove a dump truck for Babson & Smith Trucking. She eventually claimed that one day she hit something on the road. She said the impact caused her to bounce on her seat and hit her head inside the cab.

Months later, when she had persistent back and neck pain, she filed a workers’ compensation claim. She told workers’ comp officials that she had immediately told her supervisor about the injury. Her supervisor said she had not.

Unfortunately for the company, the court believed Fipps when she said she reported the accident and when she said the accident caused her injury. She got the benefits. (Fipps v. Babson & Smith Trucking, No. COA07-1361, North Carolina Court of Appeals, 2008) 

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