From minor injuries to major accidents that lead to permanent disability, workers’ compensation claims often provide essential financial assistance to employees who face physical or other harm while on the job. In Michigan, most private companies and all public employers must carry some form of worker’s compensation insurance.
Employers who do not perform their due diligence in recognizing employee injury reports and following through with insurance claims may face steep penalties. In a recent example from East Lansing, a former city employee won both an $85,000 compensation claim for injury and a $40,000 settlement for wrongful termination.
When employers fail to prioritize worker safety
The employee in question originally filed a lawsuit against the city in March of 2019, roughly three months after his firing on Dec. 31, 2018. A former pump mechanic specialist with nearly 10 years’ experience in his position, the worker claimed that his termination was the result of both an injury compensation claim and repeated reports to state agencies about health and safety violations.
East Lansing City Council unanimously agreed to support the worker’s suit, including both medical expenses and compensation for unfair termination. The former wastewater treatment employee alleged that the city had failed to make known a 2007 study identifying the risk of asbestos exposure to site workers and even attempted to minimize the results of the report. The suit also claimed that the city facility neglected to properly clean or report a potentially dangerous mercury spill in 2013. In addition to paying out $125,000 as part of the November 2019 settlement, East Lansing faced two fines from MIOSHA for safety issues related to asbestos and mercury that the city had failed to address.
Being proactive about claims is important
When an employee gets injured on the job, a worker’s compensation policy should provide her or him with the necessary financial assistance. Unfortunately, insurance vendors often do their best to avoid approving injury claims. Making sure to report a worker injury to the insurance carrier as soon as possible and providing the company with any needed documentation is essential for making the process go smoothly.