There are many tools employers can use to solve their workers comp problems. The answer to the problem can be a traditional solution, but workers compensation is a moving target, so the employer is required to consider all options.
Consider the option of “The Indirect Approach”, which in recent years has been described as “thinking out of the box”.
The theory of the indirect approach was published in the 1920s. Don’t do the obvious and don’t do what has consistently failed. Otherwise, you are duplicating Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing something a hundred times and thinking you will get a different result on the hundred and first try.
Consider Workers Compensation’s Relationship With Other Laws
Workers compensation coexists with dozens of other laws with which an employer must comply, creating opportunities for the curious. Every new law, and there are thousands of new laws each year, necessarily interact with laws already in existence, but little is written about those countless possible interactions, many of which can solve a comp problem for an employer, as well as its employees.
Attorneys who represent workers quickly discover these interactions in benefits awarded from several sources on a comp claim. A single motor vehicle accident might have the work comp attorney juggling through a comp claim, a negligence suit, STD, LTD, social security and unemployment claims. Furthermore, these interactions are quite common. But to the employer, as well as to carriers, the comp claim seems to be isolated and only indirectly affected.
But the worker’s attorney, after a few years in the business, learns how to coordinate handling of multiple claims to produce more fees for fewer hours worked – but only with proper coordination.
Regulatory Laws Provide Additional Investigative Options For Employer To Reduce Claim Costs
For the employer, regulatory laws from both state and federal, provide additional opportunities to investigate work comp problems within the first week after a reported injury, without interacting at all with the comp system. The opportunities include medical exams, HIPAA releases, as well as numerous opportunities to open and maintain independent channels of communication with the worker and the medical providers.
Medical examinations of drivers of heavy vehicles, under the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations are usually done every two years to keep a driving certificate active. What is not generally known is that the employer may schedule its own exam anytime the driver’s medical condition may have changed. This is what precisely arises whenever a comp claim is filed. The exam is under the sole control of the employer and outside parties, other than the driver, may not be informed.
Many other laws have similar provisions for exams. Surprisingly, these have the effect of reducing the number and severity of comp claims.
In many med exams, HIPAAs are necessary since prior conditions must always be considered. Here, too, is an opportunity for employers.
Largest Positive Effect Is Employers Engagement in Employee Communication
But the largest positive effect of the employer engaging with alternate Federal and State laws comes from the chance an employer has to communicate with a worker and the worker’s family. The communications can involve the possible causes of the injury, but can also involve early discussions about return to work. Involving the spouse in the discussions reduces disability duration, since spouses are rarely supportive of extended disability.
All these things are produced by an indirect approach handling of employee disability.
Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, NY. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100. firstname.lastname@example.org
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