Nearly all compensation problems are solved by employers if they follow two basic rules: 1. Communicate early, 2. Communicate thoroughly.
Employers Begin Reaching Out Far Too Late
Employers with complaints about the handling of a problem claim nearly always begin reaching out far too late. Complaining only after the litigation is finished and the results are in is far too late…and far too common.
The period for communication that yields the best results is immediately following a report of injury. This is the period where an employer can gather the most useful information and send it to the carrier so that it can be used most effectively. During this period (the first week after the first report) the employer will, inevitably, have questions. This is also the period in which to use the phone to get those questions answered.
Best Sign Of Poor Communication Is Blank Spaces On Forms
The best sign of poor communication is blank spaces on forms that the employer completes. A blank space may occur because the employer has insufficient information or thinks that the carrier or someone else will get the information if it is needed. Most assuredly, that will rarely occur. Blank spaces, at best, cause delay; at worst, they cost money. So eliminate blank spaces on forms. And call the carrier when you need help – before you stop writing.
Communication by the employer is not just with the carrier. Employees are usually required to file a written claim form with the compensation board and carrier. If the facts on the employee form do not match the facts on the employers report a contested claim may follow. Therefore, it is best if each party receives a copy of the other’s form and contradictions are resolved before the forms are mailed (or e-mailed) to the carrier and board.
Communicate With Treating Health Facility
Communication by the employer with the treating health facility is also highly desirable at the start of a claim. Most employees calling a compensation lawyer do so because the initial medical bill goes unpaid and the worker receives a demand for payment from the health facility. Usually this is triggered by the facility’s failure to communicate properly with the compensation board or the carrier. If the employer encourages employees to bring initial payment problems to its attention the number of claims with lawyers will drop dramatically.
In addition, a compensation claim may be involved with simultaneous claims for negligence, unemployment, private disability insurance and discrimination. The employer will usually have file of information on each, where it will do no good unless the carrier is alerted to the existence of such files.
Silence, in the presence of claims, is only golden for your opponents.
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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