When someone has been injured at work and there is a dispute concerning the accident, coworkers can be asked to testify in a workers' compensation claim. There is a place on the First Report of Injury or Illness form where workers can list a witness to the event that caused injury. Of course, employees who provide statements may worry about retaliation from the employer. It's important they understand their rights.
Utilizing an Employee Statement in a Workers’ Compensation Claim
A coworker may refrain from testifying about a work accident because of the fear of:
- being fired;
- demotion; or
- being subject to some other form of retaliation.
But employees cannot get in trouble for sharing what they saw happen, especially where the safety of other workers is an issue.
How an Employee Statement May Help a Workers’ Compensation Claim
There can be different reasons for calling upon a coworker to provide a statement. One situation is when the employer and/or insurance carrier tries to argue the injuries weren’t work-related. If others saw what happened, they can support the employee’s claims that the injury was sustained while on the job.
For instance, a coworker might testify that he/she saw the individual fall off a ladder. Or the coworker may know of a hazard in the workplace that caused the person to become sick.
Another circumstance in which testimony from a coworker could be helpful is when there is a disagreement as to the extent and severity of an injury. For example, the treating physician may release the employee back to work before he/she is ready.
Let’s say the doctor indicates the individual suffered nothing more than a bump on the head. But coworkers saw the employee lose consciousness, which could indicate a more serious injury.
Additionally, coworkers may have access to information or documents that can be helpful in the case. One example is photographs, which may have been taken of the area in which the accident occurred. This could help substantiate what actually caused the accident.
Seeking Help from an Attorney When Facing a Workers’ Comp Hearing
The nature of a dispute in a workers’ compensation claim can vary from one person to the next. When it cannot be resolved it may necessitate a hearing, in which ample evidence will be required. To ensure that an injured worker assembles everything necessary to help prove his/her side of the situation, an attorney can help.
At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, we understand the many complex issues that can arise in these types of cases. We can help injured workers obtain a list of coworkers that might provide valuable testimony.
Finally, we can explain an injured worker’s rights and the responsibilities of an employer if an employee has been injured on the job. This includes steps that workers need to take if there are concerns of retaliation because a coworker has agreed to provide testimony. Call us at (641) 792-3595 to set up a consultation.