By: Michael Weiner, Workers' Compensation Claims Examiner Editor: John H. Geaney, Esq.
As adjusters we are constantly being reminded to document our files: specifically, keep good log notes. We have all heard managers and supervisors repeat this mantra: “If it is not in the notes, it did not happen!” Good claim notes should “tell the story of the claim.” But what is the best way to keep good claim notes? Is there only one way to accomplish this task? Probably not.
Over 28 years, I have developed my own system of keeping detailed and accurate claim notes. Essentially, I label every note that I take. Now I know some computers systems have note headings, but I label it anyway because when the notes are printed they always show who I am talking to. Sometimes the headings do not show up on the printed copy.
Here is how my personal system works: I categorize my note into five broad categories. They are Claimant, Doctor, Client, Defense Contact and Action Plan. These categories correspond to the individuals I am talking to most often in the life of the claim. Once the category is indicated, I then provide detail on the entry. At the end of every note that is being entered as part of a diary I include the caption of Action Plan. I do this for two reasons. The first is management finds this very useful. The second is that it helps me focus steadfastly on closing the file.
In the Action Plan I discuss my thoughts and expectations as to how I will resolve the claim. I find that having an action plan in the notes helps me the next time I look at the file. I know what I need to do and why I wanted to do it the next time I look at the file.
New Jersey comp files can sometimes stay open for years. The average file is in the Division is open for two years and three months. My goal is to close cases as quickly as I can within the appropriate level of exposure, and clear and useful log notes help me achieve that goal.
From time to time, Mr. Geaney invites Guest Bloggers on workers' compensation matters. Mike Weiner, an experienced adjuster, was kind enough to submit this blog today. Please send any feedback to Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John H. Geaney, an executive committee member and shareholder with Capehart Scatchard, began an email newsletter entitled Currents in Workers' Compensation, ADA and FMLA in 2001 in order to keep clients and readers informed on leading developments in these three areas of law. Since that time he has written over 500 newsletter updates. To visit his New Jersey Workers' Comp Blog, click here.
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