“Flexibility” when you’re involved in a claim of any kind, gives you options – and that means having several ways to deal with a problem. But flexibility can mean much more. It can also give an employer freedom of action; in addition all others involved in a claim do NOT have the same advantages that the employer has.
A Workers Comp Claim Can Overlap With Many Other Laws
Let’s focus on comp claims. Normally, an employer surrenders control of the handling of a comp claim to others, mostly the comp board and the carrier. The employer’s role is generally limited to being a witness or a source of a few documents, principally the first report of injury. But it sometimes happens that another claim is simultaneously in progress with the comp claim, often a negligence or unemployment claim or both. Those are just the tip of the iceberg.
A comp claim can overlap with negligence, unemployment, short term disability, long term disability, Social Security, discrimination, private disability, FMLA. ADA OSHA, DOT and many, many other laws. How does that help an employer faced with a difficult comp claim?
Good Chance That Answers Contradict
For starters, all of the above have some kind of an initial claim report, usually initiated by the employer. The initial report requests that one or two pages of questions be answered. The questions differ in some ways from claim to claim, but they overlap on questions involving disability and causes. The chances that the answers contradict those made on other claims rises exponentially as the veracity drops. Bad claims are rarely consistent when more than one recitation of facts is necessary.
The employer has great opportunities for proper handling of claims when it notifies the carrier of inconsistencies. Is this done frequently? No it is not. In fact it is the rarest of exceptions. Which is why it is so effective when it is used.
Employer Can Contain Claims With Pro-activity
Inconsistencies occur because claims by an employee are often months, even years, apart and most people do not check to make sure that the statements are not contradicted by earlier, or later, versions. Your correspondent defeated several claims because the allegations in the unemployment claim bore no resemblance to later statements in the comp claim. In all of those claims it was the curiosity of the comp lawyer that uncovered the existence of the unemployment claims. How many more unemployment claims were undiscovered on other comp claims? In NY, thousands per year, maybe even ten thousand per year. With proactivity by the employer those claims can be contained.
Understandably, the employer usually groans at a multiplicity of claims by a single employee. Instead, the employer can use them as a new claim tool, a tool that has been available all along.
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. email@example.com
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