An attorney who represents insurers and employers in workers’ compensation disputes said the biggest complaint he hears from injured workers — often before a judge — is, “My employer just forgot about me. They never called me.”
That’s why return-to-work programs that are embedded in the business and are compassionate are critical to getting claims settled, according to presenters Wednesday at Riskworld, the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.’s annual conference in Atlanta.
“You want your firm’s brand to support the program,” said Zachary Rubinich, a Philadelphia-based partner at Rawle & Henderson LLP. “You want a collaborative, integrated team approach. That̵7;s where you’re going to get your best results.”
Xavier Trapp, Atlanta-based senior director of claims for Floor & Décor Holdings Inc., said a return program that involves constant communication is important. Most injured workers want to work, and money is always a concern, he said.
“If I get hurt at work, my very first thought is: Where’s my next paycheck?” he said. “If you’ve never been in a situation where you’ve had to worry and be so worried, it can be incredibly debilitating for you.
“The way we structure (our program) is that we have constant communication with our injured workers. And we don’t just rely on our (third-party administrator) or insurer to make those kinds of calls. It starts and ends with us.”
Of the company’s 14,000 workers, only about 30 are typically out of work at a time because of an injury, he said.
In addition to Floor & Décor’s weekly calls with the injured worker, calls often follow medical appointments. Overall, the company involves its risk manager, the worker’s supervisor, and HR personnel in the process of assessing the injured worker’s health and well-being.
“If the process fails, it’s our fault,” Trapp said.