How Can Plaintiff and Defense Work Together in the Interest of the Injured Worker?

Collaboration for shorter claims cycles, safer workplaces, and better medical exams.

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As an industry with two sides of competing interests, workers' compensation can quickly become adversarial. Employers and insurers, at times, seek to reduce or dismiss claims to avoid paying out large sums to the injured worker. On the other hand, plaintiff attorneys benefit from long trials and may be incentivized to seek astronomical awards from the defense. Unfortunately, neither of these incentives aligns with the interests of the employee. Here are four ways that workers' compensation stakeholders can collaborate in the interest of the injured worker.

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Build Relationships Across the Aisle

Attorneys may bypass many grueling aspects of the litigation process by forming strong professional relationships with opposing legal counsel. Certified Workers' Compensation lawyer Matt Fendon told Medplace:

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Everybody in the Arizona workers' comp system knows each other and gets along very well, with only a few outliers. This helps the system because you can settle a lot of these cases early. Actually, there's a lot of cases that don't get litigated because you get a reasonable defense attorney on the other side who looks at the case and says, 'Well, employer, what you're doing is wrong. This claim or treatment should have been accepted, or this treatment should have been authorized'.

Professional conduct, being genuine and getting to know one's opponents can pay dividends and help reduce friction during the claims process.  

Safety

Another method all stakeholders can use to reduce litigation and compensation expenses is to improve workplace safety. However, the feasibility of enhancing safety depends significantly on the employer's industry. For example, reducing injuries in an office may be as simple as purchasing new ergonomic chairs, but it may be a much more involved task in construction. Either way, risk assessments, communication with legal experts, and safety measures stop injuries before they turn into litigation and puts the brakes on an otherwise lengthy and painful process for the worker.

 

Fortunately, workplace injuries trend downwards in the long term as more companies prioritize safety, according to Paul Carroll of Insurance Thought Leadership. The most recent findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report a 5.7 percent reduction in workplace injuries and illnesses since 2019. Additionally, strides in automation may further influence the decline of injured worker claims.

Speeding Up the Claims Cycle with Technology

A lengthy claims cycle incurs costs for all parties involved. The insurer and the injured worker pay expensive legal fees, and legal counsel incurs expenses while they await court dates. In his conversation with Medplace, experienced Workers' Compensation plaintiff attorney Robert Wisniewski emphasized the importance of speeding up the process.

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I'd prefer if we could have the system compressed a little bit in terms of time. Again, these are people's lives. It's not only the injured worker - but the entire family is also affected: the children, the spouse. If we could just get the system moving a little faster, we'd all be better off.

 

New high-tech tools powered by AI and the cloud can accelerate the system by reducing the burden of paperwork and administrative tasks. For example, savvy law firms use smartphone apps to quickly share legal documents with clients and counsel. Some software even detects errors in legal documents so attorneys can correct them before they delay the litigation process. Read Why Law Firms Should Use Technology to Expedite Workers' Comp Claims to learn more.

Quality Doctors

Independent medical exams through a platform like Medplace can streamline inefficiencies in the IME process. With records sharing, doctor scheduling, and messaging all in one place, law firms, TPAs, and insurers can remove administrative and logistical challenges with obtaining an IME.  Schedule a demo today to learn how Medplace can streamline your IME process.

Jerrod Bailey

Jerrod Bailey

Chief Executive Officer

Jerrod leads Medplace and holds over 20 years of experience in venture-backed technology companies. He is an expert operator across technology development, user experience design, branding and marketing, capital raising, and go-to-market strategy. Jerrod has helped launch over 100 technology start-ups, including corporate new ventures with American Express, Intel, and other notable names.

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