Honoring David Depaolo’s Legacy


“We, as an industry responsible to society, have some soul searching to do” – David Depaolo – Wednesday, July 13, 2016.


This was a quote out of one of David’s blogs written just a few days before his shocking, and untimely death.  In a few words it speaks to his mission of education, leadership, and strong voice in the workers’ compensation industry.


He wrote often about doing right, holding organizations and individuals to a high standard of integrity, and calling out those who failed to meet this standard.  He was not afraid to absorb some criticism to bring awareness for the common good.


We, as an industry, have lost a great leader. My personal reaction is one of absolutely shock.  I heard the news yesterday morning and over 24 hours later I still don’t think it has really sunk in.  I just can’t believe it. Becki Shafer called to tell me and I told her she must have the name mistaken as I was right in the middle of writing three tribute blogs to another great loss and frequent writer on our Workers Comp Roundup, Attorney Ted Ronca.   Dave Depaolo, no, that’s not right I said.  It was just two days before that I had shared a panel with Dave at the CCWC Conference in Anaheim, where he spoke of the future of our workers’ compensation and attracting the next generation of talent, among other observations spoken with the good of the industry at heart.


Becki and I talked how she thought originally the news must have been a joke, speaking to his light-hearted personality, and the fact we were all going to be getting together in Orlando in a few weeks; so this was the start of the ribbing she thought, “Dave Depaolo Dies Laughing At Bob Wilson’s Mistake”.  Unfortunately the news was tragic and sad, the loss of a 20 year friend and colleague is just hard to accept.


Everyone copes with grief and loss differently.  For me, I try to find some meaning that could be part of a bigger plan, and how to honor the individual’s legacy.  Maybe the lesson is the soul searching that David referred to last Wednesday. We so often speak of the different sides that are at odds in workers’ compensation; injured workers, payers, claims handlers, attorney’s, etc.  David’s accident is a harsh reminder that there is really only one side, the human side, and that none of us are immune to being involved in a serious accident.  Each accident that occurs affects the lives of individuals and the circle of people they touch, we need to treat these individuals, and the process, with the proper level of care and respect.


David Depaolo was a great leader and he stood for what is right in workers’ compensation.  I believe we need to honor his legacy by acting on his lessons. RIP David, you will be missed.



Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.



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  1. Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson says

    David’s reach extended way further than the shores of America, David touched many lives here in Australia as well.
    David and I never talked as much as we would have liked to due to the time differences but we chatted via email and my work would end up in his blog.
    David knew of my current project and how close to completion it is.
    I have no doubt that it would have been another blog headline but now that headline won’t happen.
    David understood the need to bring injured workers back into focus.

    Not only has the workers compensation industry lost a leader but the workers compensation industry has lost a guide and a friend.
    I am sitting in my office on the other side of the world just trying to make sense of it all.
    All I can do is follow through with the goals I had discussed with David, including ways to get Kids Chance here in Australia.

  2. David was one of a few who recognized the world of workers comp and how it was affecting injured workers and especially of late, that many injured workers were being denied benefits on the whims and incompetence of those working in the insurance industry. To say the least, there is no room for incompetence when it comes to negatively impacting an injured workers life and or their family. Our known champion for injured workers is gone, much too soon and to tragically.
    God bless David too soon departed soul and his family, our prayers for him and his family. Right about now, for his helping other people, he should be waiting in line for his angel wings.

  3. Linda Zahirsky says

    I agree with your assessment of what David DePaolo meant to the workers’ compensation community. I enjoyed reading his columns and knew that he truly understood our responsibilities to both our employer and the injuryed employee.

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