Taking the "I" Out of the Workers' Compensation Team
It is a common saying that there is no “I” in team. This same principle applies to the workers' compensation claim management “team.” All interested parties have an important role in the management of a clam. Implementation of effective teamwork will pay dividends in the long run, reduce the cost associated with a claim, and promote efficiency.
Who Are the Work Comp Team Members?
There are many members of the “workers' compensation team.” Each team member has an important function. If one team member does not do their job properly, they will only impair the other members from being successful. As the old saying goes, “a chain is only as strong as the weakest link.”
Insurance Brokers. A broker is important as they guide the client to the best insurance carrier or third-party administrator. They need to understand the unique needs of the client and match them with the party that best suits their needs. They also need to understand what innovative features a carrier or administer brings to the client.
Employer. In workers' compensation, the best offense is a strong defense. Employers need to evaluate constantly their policies and procedures. It is simply not enough to comply with state and federal safety regulations. They need to be proactive and look out for the safety and well-being of the people who work in their facilities. Having a proactive injury response is also important.
Claim Management Team. All team members need to be on the same page and have the interests of the clients they serve in mind. This goes beyond being knowledgeable in workers' compensation statutes and regulations. Part of their job includes being an effective communicator with all interested stakeholders such as the injured worker, employer representatives, doctors, and vocational experts, defense counsel, and members of applicable state/federal agencies.
Defense attorneys. Attorneys need to be zealous advocates for their clients at all times. This includes a number of different factors. For starters, attorneys need to understand the law and timelines. They need to know how to evaluate the claim and keep their client(s) advised. It is necessary to offer suggestions on defending a claim and to provide innovative options for resolving the case. If a case cannot settle, they must believe in their case and never be afraid to go to hearing or trial.
How Can These Members Work Together?
Effective teamwork starts with trust. This concept must also include a willingness to keep an open mind and learn from other members on the team. Workers' compensation claims are highly emotional and fast-paced. Failure to work together as a team can cause a number of problems:
Delays in settlement;
Increased litigation costs;
Excessive medical care and treatment;
Failure to make an injured worker “whole;” and
Fine, penalties and adverse legal decisions.
Effective and efficient communication is also important. This goes beyond returning calls or e-mails in a timely manner. It requires everyone to listen and devise a plan to mitigate exposure, provide proper benefits to the injured worker, and close files in a timely manner.
The benefits of effective teamwork by members of the workers' compensation “team” are endless. It is important for all interested parties to understand their role and contribute to a unified effort to reduce unnecessary costs in the life of a workers' compensation claim.
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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.