Who’s responsible for filing a workers’ comp claim?

Q. Our data entry employee has been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. She has not submitted a workers’ comp claim but has advised us of her diagnosis. Are we required to file the claim even if she hasn’t?  — Carla, California

A. Yes, if you believe she is missing work because of her condition, you should notify your insurer immediately. Of course, her condition might not be job-related, but if her primary responsibility is data entry, I don’t think you can assume it is not.

Informing your insurer now achieves two goals: First, if the employee is in need of treatment or is unable to work, the condition is evaluated and treated early, before things get worse. Second, her medical bills will be paid, and if she is unable to work, she will receive some wage replacement benefits—all of which make it more likely she will get the treatment and get well. If she has worked with her hands at other jobs, her prior or other em­­ployers may also be responsible. If the condition is unrelated to work, that is useful information, too.