What would be the best way an employer can measure its own involvement in its compensation claims? What can an employer do, without having to go to outsiders, to see where there are preventable deficiencies? Thirty nine years ago, a young lawyer just out of law school saw the answer and hasn’t changed his opinion since then. Just count the boxes left blank on the form that employers file with the carrier and the compensation board in reporting new claims.
Number of Blank Boxes is Best Predictor of High Comp Costs
The number of blank boxes is the best predictor of an unnecessarily high xmod, overlitigation for no purpose and extended disability. So, an employer needn’t call in experts to detect, measure and correct that problem. Just count the blank boxes. And take the time to learn what happens to those blanks.
Every box on a form is there for a purpose. The employer’s first report sets the path and pace of nearly everything that follows on a claim. But persons responsible for completing that form will, sooner rather than later, fall into the habit of thinking that there will not be consequences to cutting a few corners from time to time.
To be fair to the employer, some questions on the form cannot be answered if the employer is diligent about promptly completing the initial report. For example, a question which asks what the carrier claim number is – a number that won’t be assigned until much later, but which is on the form “just in case’ the form is being filed late.
Leaving Blank Details About The Injury Is Demanding Trouble
But a report which leaves blank how the injury occurred or fails to mention what body parts were injured is more than asking for trouble. It is demanding it – and the wish shall be granted.
Employers should not think that silence by the comp system in the face of partially completed forms is an indication that nothing is going wrong. Actually, the number of partially completed forms is so great that they are the rule rather than the exception, but that doesn’t mean that they are without consequences. The blank boxes are the single greatest contributor to easily avoidable high comp costs.
Best Results Go To Those That Make The (surprisingly small) Effort
Employers should be cognizant of the “principal of differentiation”. There are few significant advantages to being average in claims situations. The best results go to those who make the extra effort that put them in the top few percent in performance – ESPECIALLY in reporting the details of new claims. (A surprisingly small amount of extra effort is all that it takes to go from average to outstanding.)
A blank box, or a box containing the answer “unknown” either slows progress of a claim, brings it to a halt, or entrenches it on the wrong path. As common as these errors are, they receive little of the attention that they justifiably deserve.
But an employer, before calling a carrier, agent or broker to complain should first – count the blank boxes.
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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