HR Tip: Red flag for potential litigation – fear

When an injured worker mentions the word “fear” or a synonym to a claims adjuster, that claim is more likely to head to costly litigation, according to research by Lockton Cos. L.L.C. released in a white paper, “Leading with Empathy.”

According to the report, 84% of lost-time litigated claims that cost insurers and employers more than $100,000 saw “fear words” in adjuster notes. For claims costing more than $50,000, 75% of them had notes with similar wording. The research also noted a correlation between uncertainty in the claims process and the prevalence of attorney representation.

Authors of the white paper stated that “one of the most common cost drivers of workers’ compensation is a lack of communication… The average lost-time claims cost 3.5 times more when words such as ‘fear’ and ‘afraid’ are recorded in adjuster conversations.”

Employers can change the process by helping injured workers navigate the workers’ comp system, communicate regularly, and train managers in active listening and empathy. Identify and dispel misconceptions about the injury or care, fear of being fired or losing income,and worry about of future events.

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