Watch out for these illegal employer strategies for reducing workers’ comp costs

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Watch out for these illegal employer strategies for reducing workers’ comp costs

In our last post, we began looking at the issue of reducing workers’ compensation costs, and specifically what employers and their workers’ compensation insurance carriers can legally do to decrease these costs. As we noted, there are a variety of strategies employers and insurance companies can use for this purpose.

There are also, however, certain strategies and actions that are prohibited, and it is important for employees to be aware of these possibilities so that they can recognize them when they occur and respond appropriately.

The following is a list of things employers may not do in an effort to reign in workers’ compensation costs:

  • Refuse to carry workers’ compensation insurance;
  • Fail to notify employees of their workers’ compensation rights or fail to keep records of work-related injuries or to submit to the Workers’ Compensation Commission records of injuries which involve more than three lost workdays in an effort to cover avoid legitimate claims and accountability for a poor safety record;
  • Make fraudulent statements in a workers’ compensation filing in order to deny workers’ compensation benefits;
  • Require employees to pay any part of the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance premium or benefits;
  • Refuse to pay for medical care which is reasonably necessary to cure or relive an injured employee from the effects of the injury;
  • Fail to pay benefits awarded by the Worker’s Compensation Commission;
  • Restrict an employee’s choice regarding where to seek medical treatment beyond what is permitted by state law;
  • Penalize an employee for refusing to allow an employer-hired case manager to manage his or her care;
  • Discriminate against, harass, or terminate an employee for exercising his or her rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act; or
  • Strike a settlement agreement with an injured employee within seven days of the injury (such agreements are presumed under state law to be fraudulent).

This list is not exhaustive of course, but it gives readers a sense of the types of things to look out for. In cases where an injured employee has difficulty obtaining the benefits due to them, it is important to work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for guidance and advocacy.

Source: Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, “Handbook on Workers’ Compensation And Occupational Diseases,” January 2013.