J. Bradley Young is a partner with the St. Louis, Missouri law firm of Harris, Dowell, Fisher & Harris, where he is the manager of the Workers’ Compensation Defense Group and represents self-insured companies and insurance carriers in the defense of workers’ compensation claims. In his recent article, Young discusses 5 prevalent workers’ compensation insurance myths from his perspective as a workers’ comp defense attorney. We have outlined Young’s myths here for you:
1. All injured workers need an attorney.
“Most states have systems in place to resolve the claim directly with the injured worker without the time and expense associated with the claimant hiring an attorney and filing a formal claim,” explains Young. After all of the fees and expenses, seeking counsel can lead to more money lost than won in some cases. “If the claimant resolves the permanent partial disability portion of the claim on his own,” says Young, “he can afford to accept a lot less money for the final settlement amount and still take home nearly the same amount when compared to what he would actually receive if he had retained counsel and paid the fees and expenses out of his final settlement.”
Of course, this doesn’t hold true for every case. So do you research before seeking out an attorney.
2. Injured workers are entitled to compensation for any painful condition that arises during working hours.
Simply feeling pain at work does not entitle an employee to workers’ comp benefits. In his article, Young explains that “in most states, there must be some connection between the injury and the employment in order for a claim to be compensable.”
If an employee comes to you saying he hurt his leg and wants you to take care of it, be sure to find out where, when, and how said worker injured himself.
3. The jurisdiction for a comp claim is where the carrier wants it to be.
This is a myth that is pervasive among adjusters and safety directors. If an employee who works in California is goes to Arizona for a work-related purpose and is injured, the employee may choose to file a claim in California, Arizona, or even both.
A carrier cannot change the jurisdiction of a claim simply because that is where they want the claim to be.
4. Employers have workers’ comp insurance so they can let the carrier worry about their claims.
Employers should manage and monitor comp claims as if the money being paid to the claimant is their own money. “Because it is their money!” says Young.
Comp insurance works just like automobile insurance – more claims always equates to increased premiums.
5. Most workers’ comp claims are fraudulent.
One might think that this rumor holds true, but the numbers don’t lie. Young writes, “A recent study from the University of Michigan concluded that only 2% of claims are fraudulent. I would think that the actual number is a bit higher than 2%, but certainly a far cry from 100%.”