Workers’ Compensation Settlements: What They Are, And What They Are Not

Having been a Workers’ Comp secretary in my younger days, many types of claims were recorded for all kinds of issues.

For instance, there are claims for Workers’ Comp that are so devastating they are considered life-changing events, especially when viewing the before-and-after photos of the claimants.  The claimant’s person has changed so dramatically that it’s tragic.

Other injuries occur from employees working overtime because they’ve experienced physical exhaustion, thus not being as alert as they would have been during regularly-scheduled hours.

In other instances, employees began working at a company and were healthy individuals.  However, over time they began experiencing asthma, asbestosis, mesothelioma, pneumonia, and other respiratory problems because the work site is unhealthy (i.e., a sick building).

Whatever the claim is, there is a question behind it: Was the employer directly responsible for said injuries that occurred in the workplace?

That is the gist of awarding any Workers’ Comp settlement!

The injuries have to be valid, meaning they interfered with the employee’s quality of life to such an extent that the individual had to seek medical treatment (when medical treatment is available on-site [i.e., dispensary, nurse facility, at the very least a first-aid kit, etc.] with the employer), along with reaching out to their physician. Medical documentation is of utmost importance when pursuing a Workers’ Comp claim.

What can also occur are physical injuries which created emotional and mental trauma. Physical injuries are generally visual, but the ones involving mental health are invisible. Thus, before a claim is approved for an award in this type of claim the mental health issue needs to have been established and proven it was a direct result of the injury in the workplace by unquestionable mental health experts. Also, before this type of claim is granted a settlement, there is a responsibility from the claimant to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the employer is directly responsible for the physical injury which occurred in the first place.

Now we come to the subject of company leadership. Is the leader of a company responsible for everything that occurs within a company? Yes, theoretically.  That individual is the leader, after all. However, when leadership has put in place so many tools and instruments to prevent disasters and spent exorbitant amounts of funds after identifying potential hazards [and let’s go ahead and say it:  protecting employees from themselves on the job!], leadership should not be held responsible because they went above and beyond requirements.  Thus, the Workers’ Comp claim can (and should be) denied.

And the gist of this post is to talk about malingering which can occur in these situations.

People with proven, legitimate mental health issues suffer outside of this subject’s context.  Every day people were going about their lives, and suddenly were diagnosed with a mental health condition, and now taking prescriptions to lessen their conditions.  Therefore, it’s unconscionable when someone makes fraudulent claims for Workers’ Comp awards.

Vikki