February '18

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186 • RV PRO • February 2018 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S Nothing does a better job than improving worker safety. "You need to do whatever you can to reduce the number of accidents and inju- ries," says Burton. He notes the reason is that premiums go up most quickly for those employers who experience a high number of claims. That means a workplace full of people who get back injuries will drive costs up more than will a single expensive car accident. Accident rates affect an employer's "experience modification", which is the factor by which a business's premium varies from the norm for its industry and state. "If you have fewer injuries than normal for your type of business, you will get a credit in the form of a lower modification applied to your premium," Burton says. "If you experience a higher number of injuries than normal, your modification – and thus your premium – will be higher." Watch for dangerous conditions wher- ever employees are operating machinery or driving vehicles. These activities are prime causes of accidents. Too, be vigi- The Workers' Compensation Partnership Workers' compensation insurance is a two-way street: Employees are covered for medical expenses following an accident, and employers are protected against costly civil lawsuits. "Workers' compensation is a no-fault system, which means medical expenses are covered even if an accident is caused by employee error," says Jeffrey M. Adelson, general counsel and managing partner of the National Practice Group, Adelson, Testan, Brundo, Novell & Jimenez in Santa Ana, Calif. "In some states, reimbursement might be denied if inju- ries are intentional or the result of intoxication or drug use. You need to check with your attorney on how your own state handles these issues." While employers cannot generally be sued by injured workers, some states allow employees to sue for what is called "serious and willful mis- conduct." That refers to employer behavior that goes beyond mere neg- ligence to something so wanton that the employer should have known an injury might occur. An example might be deliberately removing ergonomic improvements to equipment or furniture. Employers also can be sued for what the law calls "retaliatory dis- charge," a term which refers to the termination or punishment of an employee who has filed a worker's compensation claim. "You cannot discriminate against someone who files – or seeks to file – a worker's compensation claim," Adelson says. – Phillip M. Perry

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