Heyl Royster

 


Heyl Royster

 

First Report of Injury: Timing, filing requirements, and best practices

By: Joseph Guyette, jguyette@heylroyster.com

When an employee is injured, there are a number of tasks to be completed in a very short period of time. First and foremost is the health and safety of the injured employee. After that, attention can be turned to paperwork, investigations, and preservation of evidence. While all of these tasks are important, the first step that is absolutely required by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is completion of the “Employer’s First Report of Injury” form.

Where is the form located?

The required form is also known as “Form 45,” and it can be found under the “Forms” section on the IWCC website. Click here: https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/iwcc/Documents/ic45FORM.doc to find the form on the Commission’s website.

When does the form need to be submitted?

The Workers’ Compensation Act requires the Employer’s First Report of Injury form to be submitted electronically within thirty days of any accident involving the loss of more than three scheduled workdays. For an employee death, the form must be submitted within two workdays.

How is the form submitted?

As of June 14, 2019, Illinois requires this form to be submitted electronically. These forms are filed using the XML file format. The Workers’ Compensation Commission website provides detailed information regarding the requirements for filing at the following address: https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/iwcc/Pages/EDIImplimentation.aspx

Best practices for completing the Employer’s First Report of Injury

Timing:

Assuming the injured employee’s condition allows it, it is best to complete the Employer’s First Report of Injury as soon as possible. At that point, the information should be fresh and readily available. Perhaps more importantly, the information can be gathered from the injured employee before he or she begins thinking about Workers’ Compensation benefits. After an injured employee has had an opportunity to Google Workers’ Compensation laws or talk to an attorney, the version of events leading up to an accident may change.

Template for investigation:

The First Report of Injury provides a good template to guide the investigation of an accident. In addition to listing the date, time, and location of the accident, the form requires information that can lead to additional defenses. Specifically, there is a portion of the form asking about what the employee was doing when the accident occurred. Information contained in this field can help evaluate whether the employee was in the course and scope of his or her employment at the time of the injury.

Another section of the form asks about the body parts affected as a result of the accident. A thorough response to this section can help us exclude body parts or conditions that an employee subsequently claims were involved in the accident. If an employee falls and injures his left shoulder, but subsequently claims an increase in low back pain, this report can form the basis for a defense.

Finally, the form includes a section asking about the object or substance that directly harmed the employee. This portion of the form can help us identify whether there is another entity or individual that is at fault for causing the employee’s accident. If a vendor or outside contractor makes a mess that causes an employee to fall, we can pursue a civil lawsuit to recover amounts paid for Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Be thorough:

It is critical that the Employer’s First Report of Injury is completed in a thorough manner. Vague or incomplete entries often make for additional work in the weeks, or even months, after an accident has occurred. For example, if the report simply indicates that an employee “slipped/tripped,” it is impossible to evaluate compensability or assess potential defenses. Did that employees slip on ice, or did he simply trip over his own feet? Was a fall caused by careless coworker’s misplaced tools, or by the cleaning service that had spilled floor wax? Did the accident occur inside of your building, or in the parking lot?

The best time for gathering all these details is right after an accident has occurred. Finding information and witnesses long after an accident has occurred can be difficult, if not impossible. Thoroughly completing the Employer’s First Report of Injury provides the best opportunity to defend a Workers’ Compensation claim.

Conclusion

The Workers’ Compensation Act requires the Employer’s First Report of Injury to be completed and electronically filed in a relatively short amount of time. If it has to be done, you may as well do it right and do it now. Using the form as a template for an investigation is the first step. The second step is to be thorough in filling in information. Once that is done, claims handlers and defense counsel will be in the best position to evaluate compensability and defenses.

If you have any questions about accident investigation or completing and filing the Employer’s First Report of Injury, feel free to contact the Workers’ Compensation team at Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen.