Atlanta workers’ compensation law states that an employee injured while performing work duties must be automatically covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Claims that are accepted by employers and their respective insurance companies are known as compensable claims, and the claims include medical care and lost wage insurance benefits.
While the state’s compensation system is expected to run smoothly, that is not always the case. There are many employers that evaluate every on-the-job injury critically to try to find reasons to deny the claims. Workers’ compensation costs employer’s money and human resource managers may work tirelessly to find reasons to deny claims.
Often, employers will try to deny work injury claims by arguing that the worker’s injury was really a pre-existing condition or that the accident reported did not really happen during the worker’s scope of employment, or it did not occur at work.
What if the Accident Was Not Witnessed by Another Employee?
The defense that the injury did not occur at work seems to be particularly common when the worker’s accident was not witnessed. If an employee’s job duties require one to work on their own or within small groups, they may find themselves fighting an insurance adjuster who does not want to pay out a claim as the adjuster assumes that every employee that has suffered a work injury is dishonest and, in turn, every unwitnessed incident could result in a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim. So, how can an employee protect themselves?
For starters, employees should carefully consider consulting a dedicated Atlanta workers’ comp lawyer as early on as possible. Timing is of the utmost importance in an unwitnessed accident, and an injured worker will benefit from the guidance of a workers’ comp lawyer.
Secondly, workers are urged to be careful and specific when reporting an accident. It is recommended that a worker write out the below information before a report is even filed:
- The date of the accident
- The time of the accident
- The worker’s exact location when the accident occurred
- The name and contact number of the worker’s direct supervisor
- The name and contact details of any witnesses that may have seen the incident or who arrived on the scene of the accident a few minutes later
- Employees should do their best to remember as much as they can in as much detail as possible. This detail is especially important when it comes to writing out a worker’s recollection of any conversation that may have occurred with passersby, witnesses, and superiors. Workers should write down what was said by all parties.
- If the employee originally reported the accident via cell phone, they should write down the cell phone number and the number called along with the time that the call was made by the worker
- The worker should identify what they were wearing and any safety equipment they may have had on at the time of the workplace accident
- Workers should aim to describe what happened from the time they began work on the day of the incident, the actual accident, and what happened afterward
- Employees should try to identify every person they spoke to in person or telephonically in the 24 hours after the accident
- Write down a full description of what hurt and when it began to hurt
- Fully describe any medical care or emergency attention that was received after the accident
- The more detail the worker can provide, the better, particularly if the accident went unwitnessed but can be backed up with other evidence. For instance, if an employer states that they called their manager at 1:30 pm and cell phone records can confirm the information, the employee’s credibility is enhanced. But, if the employee claims that they called their manager at 2:30 pm on a Friday, but cell phone records show that it was 4:00 pm on a Thursday, all of the worker’s other statements may appear suspect.
Workers who wish to claim Atlanta workers’ compensation should realize that the severity of some workplace injuries may not be immediately apparent, for instance, a serious injury to the back could start out as a dull ache, but within a week, the employee may be left bedridden and in agony. Therefore, every injury should be treated as serious.
Workers are urged to minimize physical activities after a workplace accident. It is not uncommon for workers’ compensation insurance providers to hire private detectives to carry out video camera surveillance. Even an innocent game of catch with children could be used against the employee.
What Can I Do if My Claim is Denied Because There Were No Witnesses?
Sometimes, even if an employee is telling the truth, an insurance company could deny the claim as there may not be enough evidence to convince the judge that the accident did occur at work. It may not be fair or right, but sometimes it is just the way the system works.
It should be noted, though, that insurance providers do what they can to manage risks. A judge may rule in the worker’s favor and then subject the insurance provider or the employer, or both, the penalties. The workers’ compensation law in our state allows employees and employers to settle disputed claims via a ‘no liability stipulation.’ In the case of a no liability stipulation, the insurance company or the employer will deny that they are responsible for paying the worker benefits and that the injury did not occur on the job. They will agree to pay the employee a lump sum in an effort to resolve any claims the worker has, and this could lead to the employer asking the employee to resign.
Contact an Atlanta Workers’ Comp Lawyer
Any employee that is injured in an unwitnessed accident should seek the help of a dedicated Atlanta workers’ comp lawyer at John B. Jackson. Unwitnessed workplace accidents and injuries can be complex cases that require assistance. Our lawyers will fight for fair compensation. Book a consultation today.