Many employers are reluctant to file workers' compensation First Reports of Injury, particularly on minor or disputed injuries.
Some employers are unaware that they have to file First Reports in relatively "minor" claims.
The filing of a First Report (Form 1) does not
create liability and may actually benefit the employer by providing accurate information in a more timely manner.
For these reasons, it is important for employers to know their reporting obligations and to know how timely filing of first reports can benefit them.
The Vermont Department of Labor receives approximately 24,000 first reports of injury each year. Of these, only 1/3 become workers' compensation claims which require the department's action and intervention. Many first reports of injury are filed for relatively minor injuries. There may be only one medical visit and no lost time. Here are some guidelines to have for employers:
When to file a first report: The law requires that every employer must record and report all work injuries that require either:
1) any medical attendance; or
2) one day absence from work or more.
This means that anytime an injured worker requires any medical attention, even one office visit, it must be reported.
What is an injury: Since all injuries must be reported, it is helpful to know what constitutes an injury. An injury is any harmful work-related change in the body. It may occur instantaneously such as in a fall or it may occur gradually, over time, such as with a repetitive motion. Since 1999, an injury also includes any occupational disease.
Notice of injury: The employer or carrier is required to file a first report with the workers' compensation division within 72 hours of receiving notice or knowledge of an injury. This means that even if the injury happened sometime in the past, as soon as the employer learns of the injury they must report it. Even if the employer disputes the facts surrounding the injury, or the relationship between the injury and the employment, the employer is still obligated to file the first report. The employer must also notify their insurance carrier of the injury.
Filing First Report does not create liability: In workers' compensation, the employee has the burden of proving that they suffered a work injury. Filing a First Report is mandatory for employers and is not evidence establishing a work injury. The First Report contains information that may enter into a dispute over compensability, but the employee remains responsible for presenting sufficient competent evidence verifying the character and extent of the injury and disability, as well as the causal connection between the injury and the employment.
Filing provides accurate and timely information: The filing of the First Report is mandatory but the employer/carrier is free to supply other evidence or information concerning the work injury. Many disputes arise over whether or not an injury occurred out of and in the course of work. The employer should provide any relevant information concerning an injury to the carrier, along with the First Report. In addition, the carrier should investigate and seek out any additional information concerning a claimed injury relevant to denying or adjusting the claim.
Employees need education to report injuries: Employees should report injuries but many do not know to do this. Employers need to educate employees about reporting all work injuries. Employers should have a clear reporting procedure and a designated person to report them to. First Reports of Injury (Form 1's) should always be available for filing. Form 1's are available on our website at http://220.127.116.11/Default.aspx?tabid=170.
Prompt reporting means prompt attention and intervention: All work injuries and claims deserve prompt attention. Timely medical attention can provide important medical care when it is necessary and may limit medical care in the long run. Prompt reporting also allows the carrier full opportunity for prompt investigation and prompt adjusting. In the event a claim is disputed, prompt notice ensures that both parties have accurate and timely information so that they may locate witnesses, evidence, or other information relevant to the claim.
Filing a First Report of Injury is a mandatory paper chore but the practical steps involved ensure early intervention and can ultimately help employers.