Utilize a Nurse Case Manager
These specialists coordinate doctor examinations, accompany the employee to these appointments, arrange referrals and prepare comprehensive reviews. While this benefits the employee, it may also benefit you. Since the primary interest is getting the employee back to work, the nurse case manager will likely give you honest observations and recommendations about the employee. Moreover, because the nurse case manager has an independent incentive to move the case along, a quicker resolution means less cost for you.
Cut Back on Unnecessary Depositions
Depositions are an expensive and time-consuming process. The need to depose parties varies from case to case but you will not always need to depose everyone affiliated with the incident. Generally, deposing a witness is only necessary when facts are needed to help determine compensability and/or information concerning treatment or permanency or other issues necessary for trial. Think about what information you hope to gain before you dive into the deposition pool, and make a decision as to whether the upside is worth the expense.
Combine Costs for Medical Records
Discuss with your attorney at the outset of a case what you each will need; when you receive reports from the treating health care providers, immediately forward copies of these records to your attorney. Not only does this keep all parties informed, it also allows you to prevent attorney bills for letters or calls made questioning the employee's records. Another way to cut the costs of medical records is to avoid the need for record certification. Certified records are not needed in many cases, as the majority of cases settle. To skirt this problem, help the opposition save money as well! Have your attorney inquire as to whether the two sides can stipulate to the admissibility of non-certified records, or split the cost of certified records
Consider Updating the Status of the Case Less Frequently
Attorneys are under pressure to update their client on a frequent basis. However, such frequent updates may not be necessary. For example, when an employee is undergoing treatment, one to three months may lapse between doctor appointments. If there are no other active issues in the case, a status letter from the attorney will not provide you with new recommendations or information. Consider asking your attorney to update the case status only when something of significance has occurred, but not less than a date certain (120 days) to cut needless attorney costs.
Utilize Electronic Updates to Save Time and Money
In states that provide you with the choice of receiving notices of settings electronically, taking advantage of such an option could result in cost savings. Electronic notices can be cut and pasted or copied into claims notes. If you receive electronic notices of settings, further consider whether it is worth your time and money to receive letters from your attorney regarding upcoming settings.
Consider whether you can Settle a Workers' Compensation Case without Obtaining Ratings
Some states consider ratings of permanency to help assess an employee's degree of disability. If your state uses this practice, consider whether the case can be resolved before a rating is required. Ratings can be costly; obtaining a percentage of disability rating can range from a couple hundred dollars to well over $1,000. Contemplate negotiating with the opposing party first before requesting an employee rating. By negotiating first, the parties may successfully resolve the dispute without having to request ratings. This is especially effective when the injury is one commonly seen, like carpel tunnel syndrome and has a well-known settlement range. If settlement negotiations fail, the parties are still free to seek ratings.
Identify any Third Party who Owes Workers' Compensation Subrogation
Subrogation is a legal concept that allows you to recoup money that you have paid on another's behalf. For example, if an employee is injured while working due to the negligence of another, you may be able to recover some of the funds paid from the negligent third party. In most states, the employer's insurance company has the right to step into the employer's shoes and bring a civil lawsuit against the non co-worker tortfeasor. (In some cases, you may be able to even bring a case against a liable co-worker.) You must identify claims with third- party liability and ascertain whether the employee pursues the civil suit or if you need to independently pursue recovery. Be aware of the statute of limitations and remain cognizant of whether the amount you stand to recover justifies the litigation costs.
Become Familiar with What Doctors Charge
Doctors who commonly devote time to workers' compensation cases by providing independent medical evaluations and depositions often have set charges for these services. Remember to ask these treating specialists up front what they charge for supplemental reports, depositions and ratings before the employee's treatment is set to begin. This prevents over payment of benefits and allows you to keep a case steadily moving toward resolution. Become familiar with the standard costs for specific procedures and tests that doctors perform on workers' compensation patients. With this knowledge, you will know if a provider's charges are high. If there is a possibility you may utilize a particular doctor frequently, consider negotiating for a special rate.
Understand the Big Picture
Endeavor to gain a complete understanding of the workers' compensation process. Utilize your attorney and participate in continuing legal education that focuses on aspects of workers' compensation. Try to understand the treatments for common work injuries. This will help you identify unnecessary tests and treatments. Learn the aspects of and the standard costs associated with the medical treatments. Most importantly, administrative law and especially the workers' compensation sector, is a place where you will repeatedly deal with the same people on a daily basis. Develop positive relationships with your colleagues in this area; you never know who can help you cut costs and reach successful resolutions.