Teamwork Makes the Team Work
Enhancing the relationship between defense counsel and employer
By Eric Gilkey
CLM’s Workers Compensation Community recently presented a webinar that provided insights on enhancing the relationship between defense counsel and employer in workers compensation-related litigation.
Steve Carman, workers compensation manager,
Celadon Trucking Inc.
Brenna Hampton, managing partner, Hanna Brophy LLP
“For lawyers, the workers compensation industry is attractive because, regardless of the economy, workers compensation claims are filed. If the economy is good, more people are working and getting injured. If it’s bad, more people file claims as a method of job preservation. The net result is more claims, all the time, regardless of external influences.”
“Understanding who your team is, the role that each of those team members plays, and how to best communicate the various tasks that each member is going to accomplish is really what is going to help drive all of those other discovery, tactical, and strategic practices…. You should consider anyone who touches the case as part of your team.”
“I work with a fair number of people who are new to workers compensation, so having informal personal communication and giving people the opportunity to get to know each other helps calm the nerves and, honestly, results in better information being exchanged between parties.”
“When you’re looking for defense attorneys, you want to identify if they have experience resolving your most common types of claims. Are you in a specific industry with quirks? Do you have time to train a new attorney on what those quirks are? Do you prefer someone hands-on? Do you trust them to get it done?”
“Setting reserves is a claims examiner function, but it’s a team communication. If you don’t have adequate reserves set on your case, your defense attorney will be busy preparing mid-litigation budgets and your claims adjuster is going to be distracted…. Make good choices together.”
“[Counsel should] give options and probabilities. I can’t stress this enough, at least from my standpoint. I’m no expert in appellate court law, so what I’m looking for out of counsel are my options and odds when we come to a fork in the road. It’s so appreciated, and you’ll get a lot of great feedback from me if you do this.”
“Don’t be afraid to call them like you see them. When picking a defense counsel, this is a big deal. What I’m looking for is a trusted confidant. One of the best defense attorneys I work with will say, ‘You’re not going to like this, but this is probably what’s going to happen.’ I work with her more because of her honesty.”
“When you go to the dentist, they tell you ‘I’m going to give you a shot, it might hurt,’ or ‘I’m using the drill for this.’ They’re always giving you updates. If you take that model and apply it to workers compensation, your communication will be so much better and appreciated.”