A website recently published a list of fifteen federal and state laws with which most employers must comply. Surprisingly, however, almost nothing has been written about how those laws interact with each other. But careful searching through laws yields undiscovered advantages for employers. What might be called “diligent over-compliance” yields unsuspected favorable results, especially on work comp cost reduction.
All Laws Operate In “The Seemless Web”
How does compliance with one law produce results in another law? That is due to the fact that all laws operate in what has been called “the seamless web”. Laws seem to operate as independent operations but, in fact, have consequences which affect all other laws.
Federal DOT Regulations & Workers Compensation
Consider, for example, federal DOT regulations for heavy trucking, especially regs for medical exams. The regs make virtually no reference to compensation claims but the DOT provisions for employer directed medical exams , anytime the ability to drive might have changed, in fact have a profound effect on shortening lost time. The fact that few employers are aware that they can schedule such exams leads to unnecessarily extended lost time on work comp claims.
Few employers search for ways in which they can extend their compliance activities, which is why the phrase “diligent over-compliance” is used in this article. But laws are filled with similar opportunities for the pro-active. What is especially gratifying is reaping the harvest of rewards from voluntarily extending compliance activity.
Short Term Disability in NY State
Another example of “super compliance” can be found in the short term disability law of New York State. NY is one of only four states that have mandatory short term disability, which was passed in 1947. Contained in that law (NY WCL Sect 217(1)) is a nearly totally ignored provision that gives the employer the right to schedule an independent medical exam once a week for the 26 weeks of the claim (which is statutorily limited to 26 weeks). But short term disability benefits are usually paid while a contested comp claim is in progress. Therefore, the employer has a powerful tool for obtaining examination results far above what the workers compensation claim has.
(One HR manager, years ago, knew of the provisions and successfully used them to win a NY workers compensation claim, but he may have been the only person ever to do so.)
Another example is the lien that long term disability plans have in the NY work comp law. Again, this is different than the short term disability benefit lien contained in a different section and most long term disability companies do not realize it exists, much less use it. Yet the discovery and use of the section would lower claim costs on large contested comp claims.
How many “undiscovered” laws and regs exist which effect workers compensation claims? The number seems to be dozens in a state like NY, and at least hundreds, if not more, nationwide. So “diligent over-compliance” may be the claims strategy of the future. 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 ©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.