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Workers Comp involves more than filling forms

By Richard Shaw

A person gets hurt at work and one of the first things in most people’s minds is about insurance, and how that injury will be paid for.
That’s where Workers Compensation Insurance comes in.
Workers Compensation is not as simple as filling out a form once the person has gone to the doctor or clinic. There is a lot more to it than most people think.
That was what Anita Watson, a labor commission specialist from Utah Labor Commission told the Business Expansion and Retention meeting on May 14.
“The Utah Labor Commission is there to achieve safety in the Utah workplace,” said Watson.
The Utah Labor Commission wears many hats. Their divisions include anti discrimination and labor, Utah Occupational Safety and Health (UOSHA), adjudication, boiler, elevator and coal mine safety and industrial accidents.
While the Commission does many things Watson was there to talk about Workers Compensation Insurance and her role in the Industrial Accidents Division (IAD). That division monitors and administers the workers compensation program in Utah.
Workers Compensation was set up in 1917 by the Utah Legislature. The program basically pays for medical expenses from a workplace injury and helps to offset lost wages for employees who these accidents affect.
Employers pay for and must provide the insurance by purchasing Workers Compensation insurance or by getting permission from the IAD to be self insured. Insurance is purchased from private vendors, not from the state. Employers are required to post their Workers Compensation carrier’s address, policy number and phone number at the site of employment.
“Workers Compensation Fund, that you see advertisements for, is not part of the state system,” said Watson. “They are a private company and the largest.”
According to Watson over 200 insurance carriers can write policies for Utah. Workers Compensation Fund used to be a quasi-state partnership but are no longer affiliated with Utah government. They are however the carrier of last resort for an employer. They cannot turn down any business.
Workers Compensation coverage begins the minute that an employee begins work and benefits are not affected by the length of time a person has worked at a job or whether they are full time or part time employees.
Once an injury has occurred an accident report must be filled out and submitted to the IAD through the carrier. The IAD maintains a data base with all the injuries that are reported. Employers can be issued penalties when claims are not reported.
While all employers (even with one employee) must carry Workers Compensation Insurance, there are some exceptions to the rules. Some agricultural workers, real estate and insurance agents, sole proprietors of businesses, partners in business and others are exempt. However, to be exempt a waiver must be granted by the IAD. The waiver is $50 for a year and applications can be found on the IAD website at www.laborcommission.utah.gov/divisions/industrialaccdents/x wccw.html.
“This insurance protects both the employee and the employer,” said Watson. “It is a no fault system and is the exclusive remedy for workplace accidents.”
Workers injured on the job in Utah cannot sue their employer in civil court and the benefits that workers receive are fixed by law.
Because a lot of work in Utah is done by sub-contractors it is up to contractors who hire them to be sure that they have Workers Compensation Insurance covering their employees or have a waiver from doing so. If the general contractor does not verify, they could be held responsible for any injuries to employees the sub may have. The division also has a Workers Compensation web check page to see if a potential sub contractor or employer has verification of insurance at https://www.ewccv.com/cvs/
Under Workers Compensation employees are eligible for medical costs, wage replacement, mileage as well as impairment, temporary or permanent. In the case of a death the carrier should pay $9000 in death benefits. All payments are based on individual cases and the amounts may vary.
Watson said the state is very proactive as to investigating fraudulent claims concerning Workers Compensation Insurance. Workers who try to fake injuries, say an injury occurred on the job when it didn’t or prolong time away from work while drawing benefits, are the target of these investigations.

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