When adjusters daydream, their non-work daydreams are like every one else – romance and money. But when they are about work, many dreams are about how much easier life would be if their clients – the employers – knew what they know. If you could see inside the adjuster’s head, here are some of the things the adjusters wish their clients knew:
- You Hire Too Many Druggies – Workers compensation adjusters know that from 38 to 50 percent of all workers compensation injuries are related to substance abuse, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor. The adjuster’s biggest wish is that their clients had a drug-free workplace program. When employers have a published drug-free workplace program that includes pre-employment drug screens, random drug testing and mandatory drug testing of all employees involved in a work-place accident, the number of work-related injuries drops sharply. Hence, the adjuster daydreams about every employer having a drug-free work place and because of that, having a lot less workers comp claims to work on.
- Safety saves you Money – One of the first things the work comp adjuster does when a new work comp claim is assigned to him or her is to read the Employer’s First Report of Injury (FROI). The FROI has a section for the employer to describe what happened. When the adjuster reads, “Employee hurt back lifting ________ (fill in the blank),” or, “Employee tripped over ________ (fill in the blank),” or, “Employee was struck by __________ (fill in the blank),” the adjuster recognizes what the employer does not see – the employer’s safety program needs improvement. Lifting, tripping, and being struck by something are all types of accidents that can usually be avoided with an enforced safety program in place. The adjuster wishes the employer knew how many fewer accidents there would be (and how much lower the work comp premium would be) if the employer had an enforced safety program.
- Treat Every Little Injury – Too often, the adjuster gets to handle the mess the employer made when they decided not to report a “minor” injury. The employee may have said he could “tough it out” when he strained his back, twisted his knee, or dropped 200 pounds on his foot. The untreated injury often gets worse before it gets better. Just like the old proverb “a stitch in time saves nine,” timely medical treatment for a small injury can prevent an employee from aggravating the injury and making it more serious. The adjuster wishes employers would send every injured employee immediately to the doctor (and while the employee is being treated, get the drug test done as there is often an alternative motive for “toughing it out”).
- Keep in Touch with the Employee – The smart work comp adjuster knows the employee is another human being, and, just like almost every person, the employee wants to know that someone, anyone, cares about the injury that has occurred. The big burly roughneck is not going to think,” My employer is compassionate,” if he never hears from the employer after an accident. What he will think is, “They don’t give a damn (or insert much stronger curse word) about me,” and off he goes to get a lawyer who will listen to him and who will “make sure the employer pays for this.” The adjuster daydreams and wishes that the employer would stay in touch with the employee after an accident, sharply reducing the number of lawyers involved in their claims.
- Keep in Touch with the Adjuster – The adjuster needs to know what the employer knows about the work comp claim. If the employer hears scuttlebutt that the employee’s accident happened at home, or that the employee could return to work but does not want to, or any other information about the claim, the information should be shared with the adjuster. The adjuster’s daydream here is the simple wish the employer would keep the adjuster informed of any developments.
- Modified Duty Saves Money – While physical therapy will assist the employee’s recovery from musculoskeletal injuries, often-light duty work will do the same thing, and is a whole lot cheaper for the employer in the end. When the adjuster calls the employer about the employee returning to work on light duty, and has to deal with a supervisor who is only thinking about what is convenient for the supervisor, the adjuster sighs. When the employer refuses to accommodate light duty, the adjuster wishes the employer knew and understood how much sooner the work comp claim would be over if the employer would put the employee back to work on modified duty.
Workers comp adjusters do not daydream or wish the employer knew everything about their jobs, but the adjuster will continue to wish the employers understand how the employer’s action or inaction affects the adjuster’s job. If you want the adjuster to feel yours is a wonderful company, heed the ideas expressed above.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing.
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
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