When you consider the high cost of New York workers’ compensation claims, it’s clear you can’t afford to make careless missteps. And yet one of the most common and costly mistakes employers make in the workers’ compensation process is simply failing to communicate. In fact, employer silence is at the root of many workers’ comp disputes. When an employer drops the ball on communication, it’s almost inevitable that misunderstandings, delays, and added costs will be the result.
To take control of New York workers’ compensation costs, you need to establish good relationships with your employees, medical providers, attorneys, and the New York Workers’ Compensation Board. These are the four critical links in the communication chain when managing a workers compensation claim.
Most employees don’t know much about the workers’ compensation process and they can easily experience fear, doubt, and worry about the status of their job. They need information and assurance from you. They need to know and understand their rights and responsibilities under the law. And they need to know that you’re in their corner.
When injured workers don’t understand what’s going on with their claim, they’re likely to start thinking about hiring a lawyer. In fact, Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) recently published a study into the reasons workers comp claimants hire lawyers, and one of the most common reasons – cited by 46% of workers surveyed – was that they thought their claims were being contested, even though the claims process had just begun and no decision had been made. Imagine that – they didn’t even know! They just thought their claims were being denied. That kind of lack of communication can only bog down a claim and drive up costs.
Physicians and other healthcare providers
Many issues can arise in aNew York workers’ compensation claim that hinge on the medical opinion of the physician. And that physician could be called on numerous times to answer questions about an injured worker’s return to full duty, long-term treatment, physical therapy, etc. It’s crucial to build good working relationships with top quality physicians and medical providers who are accustomed to treating workplace injuries. And regular communication through the claims process is essential to stay abreast of your injured worker’s medical condition and avoid costly misunderstandings over diagnoses, treatment options, prescriptions, and other medical aspects of the claim.
One of the main goals of workers’ compensation laws is to provide medical and income benefits to injured workers without the need for legal action. But it’s inevitable that some employees will retain an attorney when they suffer a work related injury. Encourage your work comp examiner to be professional and cooperative with an employee’s attorney. Often, an attorney can help resolve certain issues and speed up the progress of a claim. And it’s likely you’ll work with the same attorneys on future claims.
New York Workers’ Compensation Board
The State Workers’ Compensation Board is a valuable resource for information including guides, manuals, and other publications. There are also numerous filing requirements during a workers comp claim to avoid fines and penalties. Knowing who handles a particular area at the Board will help you more effectively resolve issues when they come up, and working closely with them on any mediation can help reduce unnecessary litigation. If you’re familiar with requirements, it’s easier to interact with your claims examiner as well.
Communication is the key to a successful workers’ compensation program. Keep the lines open and the dialogue going, and you’ll overcome the threat of SILENCE – the deadly New York workers’ compensation killer.
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