21 Considerations in the Section of Defense Attorneys
Republished with permission from ReduceYourWorkersComp.com
Self-insured employers face an issue that employers with insurance through a workers compensation insurance carrier do not have – the selection of the best possible defense attorneys. When an employer purchases insurance through an insurance carrier, a condition of the insurance policy is the insurance carrier will provide the legal defense when needed. The self-insured employer has to take on the responsibility of identifying and selecting their own defense counsel. The following are some recommendations the self-insured employer will need to consider in the defense attorney selection process. (WCxKit)
1.Do you want the large national law firm? The large local law firm? An intermediate size local law firm? A local law firm with two, three or four insurance defense attorneys? A local sole practitioner? If a large or intermediate size law firm, how many defense attorneys do you want assigned to your workers compensation claims? If a small firm, do they have the resources to handle your volume of work comp claims?
2.Does the insurance defense attorney(s) handle only defense work, or do they also handle work comp claims for employees of other companies?
3.Are the insurance defense attorney(s) amenable to in-depth interview before you make a selection of who will provide legal services on your work comp claims?
4.Will the insurance defense attorney(s) provide references from other clients (preferably in your industry) that you can contact?
5.What is the insurance defense attorneys philosophy on keeping cost down while at the same time providing the best possible defense for your company?
6.Do the insurance defense attorneys have an in-depth understanding of the workers compensation laws and administrative regulations in the state(s) where they do business?
7.Do the insurance defense attorneys have extensive experience in hearings before the Board / Commission?
8.Do the insurance defense attorneys have an in-depth understanding of the peripheral statutes that can impact workers compensation claims – like subrogation, social security disability, vocational rehabilitation, etc.?
9.Will the insurance defense attorney(s) seek early resolution of the workers compensation claims?
10. Can the insurance defense attorney(s) provide valuable insight into local practices for arbitration, mediation and settlement negotiations?
11. Are the insurance defense attorneys amenable to complying with your Litigation Management Best Practices?
12. What is the legal fee structure? What is the hourly rate charged for para-legals, junior partners and senior partners?
13. How will the case be developed and staffed? Will the insurance defense attorney delegate work to subordinates when possible to achieve efficiency and cost-effectiveness without diminishing the defense quality?
14. What is the billing time frame? Monthly? Quarterly? Yearly? One bill at the end of the claim?
15. What leeway will the insurance defense attorney(s) have in incurring expenses beyond routine office expenses?
16. What will be the parameters for the insurance defense attorney to be compensated for legal research?
17. What will be the reporting requirements? Does the insurance defense attorney(s) provide an initial report outlining how the case will be handled? Monthly reports? Quarterly reports? Reports after each major development?
18. What are the electronic capabilities of the law firm? Will the law firm be given access to your risk management / claim management information system?
19. Are the insurance defense attorneys active in the state and local bar association? Are the attorneys active in the bar associations committees on work comp?
20. Will the insurance defense attorney(s) be amenable to legal fee audits?
21. Will the insurance defense attorney(s) provide copies of deposition transcripts? Expert Reports? Board / Commission decisions? Medical reports? (WCxKit)
The proper selection of your defense attorney(s) will have a major impact on the outcome of your workers compensation claims and their overall cost. Similar to selecting a spouse, you want a great match as you will be “married” to the defense attorney in the handling of many or your work comp claims. The proper selection of the defense attorney combined with the appropriate Litigation Management Best Practices will make for a happy union between your self-insurance program and the insurance defense attorney(s) you have chosen.
Author Rebecca Shafer, J.D. President, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com
Disclaimer: WorkersCompensation.com publishes independently generated writings from a variety of workers' compensation industry stakeholders. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of WorkersCompensation.com.