When operating the HR department of any business, it makes sense that you have your company’s best interests in mind. Your job is to make sure that staff and company can find harmony and that there is regulation. When a member of staff gets injured during work or in the workplace, though, it is easy to expect the individual to simply go through HR. However, with companies doing all they can to avoid payouts, many will turn to a professional.
With that in mind, you might find it easy to be dismissive of their claims. After all, a personal injury lawyer will always have their clients’ interests at heart. That is obvious. So, it is likely that you can see their telling of events as fantastical in the extreme. However, HR professionals would do well to listen very closely to what is being suggested by an attorney.
If a member of your company has been injured, they will be in touch with legal support on their side. Fobbing off or ignoring the advice being given to you by the attorney would be a mistake. While HR professionals should always consult senior management before making any calls, dismiss an attorney at your peril.
Attorneys come armed with the facts that will be represented in court, and usually some form of a negotiation settlement. With that in mind, you should pay very close attention to the personal injury concerns being suggested. If there is a clear need for the member of staff to be given time, compensation, or additional support in a return-to-work agreement, do not ignore what is being suggested.
Personal injury attorneys want to find the best solution – so should you.
It is common for HR departments to be on one side, attorneys representing the staff member on the other. However, it is vital that there is a negotiation tactic put in place that ensures both parties are taken seriously. You will, unless there is cast-iron proof of no wrongdoing on the part of the company, be very likely to need to offer some form of compensation. Trying to skirt around or flat-out ignore this is dangerous.
Not only does it make it easier in court to present the company as ill-mannered, but it can hurt the reputation of the company. Personal injury stories can become local news in no time; can your company really afford to have its name besmirched locally because of a staff complaint?
While HR departments and company legal staff should not simply submit to whatever is being asked, empathy is key. So is an understanding of the situation. Being vindictive or holding the claim against the staff member is unlikely to be of benefit to anyone. Instead, you should look to negotiate with the attorney in good faith.
Eventually, a solution can be found that provides support to the injured party and ensures no reputational harm. The best-case scenario is always a return to work and good health for both company and colleagues. While it might seem fair to defend company interests at all times, do not fall foul of trying to outdo a personal injury attorney.
Be honest, be fair, and listen to what is being offered. This makes it much easier to negotiate and navigate the issues, both in the short and the long term.