Friday, January 25, 2008

She's Becoming an Expert on Employment Law

My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, has worked for small companies most of her career. She's an editor and a writer, and the employers have usually been smaller groups with a modest complement of staffers who perform myriad tasks. This has allowed her to learn the ins and outs of all kinds of aspects of business. Today, she's brushing up on worker's compensation law, but she's pleased to say it has nothing to do with her employer.

A friend called from where he works to say he was buying a bag of ice. Strange, she thought, considering he works at a mechanic's shop where ice is not a big seller. He went on to explain that he was in pain because he'd just fallen off a 15-foot ladder. She asked why he wasn't calling her from an emergency room.

Turns out his employer, the owner of said mechanic's shop, didn't feel the need to let him off work when they were so busy there. Can you imagine? In the society I come from, such a thing is unheard of. In this society, Sandy thinks such a thing is illegal. The fellow had climbed on the ladder, at the employer's direction, to put away an item in a storage area that has no stairs or any other point of access beyond the extension ladder. The ladder slid on some grease on the floor, and the worker fell, injuring his foot and knee in the process.

Now, if the employer doesn't allow the worker to go to the doctor's office to check out his injuries, isn't that bad? We're all wondering if the employer is operating without worker's compensation insurance coverage, which would be odd for a mechanic's shop, don't you think? Aren't those places prone to accidents? Any employment law experts checking in today?

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Cheryl said...

I know this is a little late in coming, comment-wise, but I am an insurance agent for commercial lines so I thought I would chime in. He should have gone to the doctor immediately. He cannot be fired for filing a workers compensation claim. If the employer doesn't have work comp then he would still be responsible for payment of the bills (or they could be filed under the medical insurance, which may deny it because he was on the job). If there is no work comp, the employer can be reported and fined by the state or forced coverage. An employer with 3 or more full time employees is required by law to have WC coverage.

Debby said...

I enjoyed reading this. My husband works in this field. INtriguing happening. Aloha from Author ISland.

Nigel said...

To Cheryl and Debby,
I agree that an employer should not fire an employee for going to a doctor and filing claims that are necessary, but the employer in this case is...well...Sandy just told me I can't put that in print. (There are no medical benefits, by the way.) But the owner has at least one illegal alien in his employ already and one person whose social security number is invalid. The "goings on" at this establishment are less than desirable, but the job market in this town is such that her friend is working in this terrible place, being berated by a cretin on an hourly basis because there's just nowhere else to work right now. Sandy herself is working for a company half a continent away...

I would be very pleased if Sandy were to move to a different town, but I'd hate to have her writing schedule interrupted by such a disruption. I'm very selfish that way.

All my best to you both,

Anonymous said...

Does anyone reading this have previous experience with making an accident claim? A friend of my mother recently had some complications when giving birth. It wasn’t her fault and there weren’t natural complications but were due to someone else. If seen companies that deal with compensation claims but don’t know if there are grounds for claim of medical negligencein a birth injury claim! Has anyone ever heard of anything like this?

Nigel said...

Are you saying that the birth complications were the employer's fault? That sounds like a lawsuit, not a worker's comp claim. You need legal advice. Sandy tells me there are attorneys who will offer a free initial consultation, and some who will work on a contingency basis if your friend isn't in the position to hire legal representation.
Good luck to her!

For Sandy's friend, because the employer refused to let him go to the doctor (which I'm assuming happened to your mother's friend or you wouldn't be asking about forms after the fact), the doctor in the emergency room the next morning filled out a standard worker's comp form and signed it. You can get them at the doctor's office (or hospital) if the employer neglects (or refuses) to give you one. The doctor in Sandy's friend's case also said you can get the pdf versions online, but, since he had one right there, there was no need to track that down. I would imagine putting the relevant search words in Google would bring them up.

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