Employers often ask why they must file an Employer’s Accident Report (“EAR”) following every injury at work, even when the employee does not lose time from work, require immediate medical attention, or file a workers’ compensation claim. The answer is simple. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act requires that an employer file the EAR within 10 days of an injury.
However, there are other reasons why filing an EAR is important. First, employees generally have 2 years from the date of injury to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits; however, under certain circumstances, the failure to file an EAR tolls that 2-year period until such time as the report is filed.
Also, filing a timely report aids insurance carriers and adjusters in processing claims, ensuring that necessary benefits and payments are made in a timely fashion. This can help avoid possible fines and sanctions from the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (“Commission”).
Finally, if an EAR is not filed, the employer or its insurance carrier may be required to appear before the Commission at a show cause hearing to explain why an EAR was not timely filed. The Commission may assess up to a $500 penalty; and if the Commission determines the failure was willful, it can assess a penalty of not less than $500 and not more than $5,000.
There are several events that trigger the need to file an EAR within 10 days of an injury or accident. They include: (1) lost time from work exceeds 7 days; (2) medical expenses exceed $1,000; (3) compensability is denied; (4) issues are disputed; (5) accident resulted in death; (6) permanent disability or disfigurement involved; or (7) a specific request is made by the Commission.
Filing an EAR has never been simpler. All accidents must be reported to the Commission electronically by EDI. Instructions for completing the form are provided. You should be as thorough and accurate as possible, however, remaining equivocal is also recommended. For example, use language such as “the employee advises . . .” Although the EAR is generally not considered evidence, if you intend on disputing a claim, consistency is an important factor in building a strong defense.
For more information on preparing and filing your Employer’s Accident Report, contact us, or check out the Commission’s website here: VWCC.Employer’s Accident Report.