Avoiding Litigation – What Employers Can Do

At least one goal of workers compensation plans is to provide necessary medical care to workers injured on the job. In many occasions, however, disputes that lead to litigation during the benefit delivery process add complexity and expense – expense that could be avoided by tending to your relationship with your employees, says new research from the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI).

Titled “Avoiding Litigation: What Can Employers, Insurers, and State Workers’ Compensation Agencies Do?” the report found that workers were more likely to seek attorneys when they felt threatened. 

Workers who thought they would be fired as a result of the injury, or those that perceived that their supervisor didn’t believe the injury was legitimate were more likely to seek legal representation. Likewise for workers who thought that their claim had been denied because of delays in payment, or communications that the worker deemed to be a denial, even if the claim was later paid.

The study points to suggested actions that employers might take to mitigate the likelihood injured employees will seek attorney involvement in the claims benefits process. 

  • Train supervisors to create timely communications that focus on trust, job security and entitlement to medical care and income benefits.
  • Create state agency education materials and help lines that answer workers’ questions to ease feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability.
  • Communicate clearly and often about the status of the claim to prevent misunderstandings about denial of benefits.
  • Eliminate system features that encourage denials or payment delays to help prevent a workers’ misconstruing a delay as a denial.

The full report is available from WCRI for $35 here