It’s an all-too familiar scenario… An employee gets injured on the job and then stays home with nothing to do but watch television, feeling increasingly isolated and unneeded with each passing day. He gets frustrated as his pain increases and his claim seems to languish in limbo.
Then it happens. The injured worker sees a commercial from a local attorney, promising to expedite the claim process and get him every penny he’s got coming. So the injured worker makes the call, and before you know it, you’re no longer communicating with your injured worker – you’re communicating with his new lawyer. The cost of the claim just went up.
Want to avoid this scenario? Below are 10 common reasons why injured workers retain attorneys:
- Lack of contact with/from the employer
- Too much or intrusive contact by the employer
- Lack of available modified work
- Dissatisfaction with claim decisions
- Unpaid bills piling up
- Fear of losing the job and benefits
- General dissatisfaction with work
- Advice from family, friends or a medical provider
- Attorney advertisement/solicitation
- Defrauding the system
Generally, all of these reasons can be traced to the underlying triggers of unclear communication, unfamiliarity with or fear of the workers’ compensation system, or in some situations, the injured worker’s lack of desire to work. If an employee doesn’t have the desire to work, there’s probably not much you can do to change his or her attitude. But there are plenty of things you can do to address the other root causes.
Follow these three crucial steps to keep your workers’ compensation claims on track.
- Communicate. Start talking to the injured worker as soon after the incident as possible to find out exactly what happened and why, and provide the injured worker with information about the workers’ compensation process. But don’t drop the ball there. Keep up regular communication throughout the claim to find out how treatment is going and how the injured worker is feeling and progressing. By outlining expectations from the beginning and keeping the lines of communication open, you can avoid many misunderstandings and miscommunications.
- Alleviate their fears. Let injured workers know what to expect. Talk through any issues with the claim and help them understand the process. Assure them that they won’t lose their jobs because of the injury.
- Provide work. Make a commitment to offer your injured workers some kind of light duty or modified work. It helps them continue to feel like a part of the company, helps them avoid the detachment and depression of languishing at home, and helps them make a smoother transition back to their regular duties.
When injured workers don’t understand the process, aren’t getting the communication and information they need to understand what’s happening with their claim, or aren’t offered modified work, many will instinctively “lawyer up” to protect their interests. It’s vital to stay connected with your injured workers throughout the claim process to keep them connected to your organization, motivated to return to work and less likely to retain counsel.
For more information about effectively managing your workers’ compensation program, talk to the Texas workers’ compensation insurance experts at Higginbotham.