Recently, I was asked to be part of a panel presenting to one of the largest workers' compensation insurance carriers in the Kansas City area. The room was full of claims representatives and employers' safety coordinators who certainly didn't give me the warmest of welcomes. The rest of the panel was made up of a defense attorney, a conservative spinal surgeon and a Judge with the Missouri Division of Workers' Compensation. Needless to say, I felt like a side of beef that had just been tossed into the lion's den, but I welcomed the opportunity to set a few things straight.
Even with all of the negative changes to the workers' compensation laws in both states, the overall feel from the room was that they are still somehow the victims that get taken advantage of. It's always been amazing to me how a comparatively small number of questionable or even fraudulent claims can be used to paint the significant majority of claims, which are totally legitimate, in a negative light. After listening to the doom and gloom for a while, the first words out of my mouth were, "Now let me inject a dose of reality into this conversation as someone who's in the trenches with injured workers."
I told the room that they needed to stop viewing injured workers as people who are trying to game the system unless and until there is an actual reason to do so. I told them that unreasonable denials and delays can cause good people tremendous hardship in personal, financial and physical ways. I even told them that their failure to take appropriate and timely action once an injury is reported is the main reason that injured workers call us for assistance.
Injured workers deserve to know what steps should be taken on their behalf once an accident is reported and that their employer and its insurer are actually taking appropriate action. There will always be legitimate disputes that require a Judge to ultimately decide who's right and who's wrong, but far too many headaches are caused by indifference if not hostility towards a worker who never asked to be injured in the first place. We are certainly glad to be there for those workers when we're needed as we certainly know how to make a difference. Please give us a call with any questions.