Author Archive

State news roundup: Problems in KY, OH, CT

Friday, September 9th, 2005

KY: “Joint and several” liability at work
A Circuit Court judge has ruled that members of the failed AIK Comp self-insurance group must pay millions in assessments to cover benefits for injured employees. We wrote about this matter in December, discussing the concept of joint and several liability and the so-called ‘long tail’ of workers comp claims. At that time the liabilities were in the $50 million range – the deficit is now more than $97 million, the expected costs to pay employee claims. Ouch. The moral of the story here is not to get in bed with a group of other employers unless the group has been carefully vetted for management practices of both the group administrator and the individual members.
OH: Another BWC official fired in Coingate
The chief investment officer of the state’s beleaguered Bureau of Workers Compensation was fired yesterday for poor performance in handling the $14 billion investment portfolio. The Bureau has been under scrutiny since a $50 million investment in rare coins came to light in April. About $13 million of that investment is “missing.” In all, about $300 million has been lost, much of the losses stemming from investment in controversial hedge funds. For a complete roundup of the evolving scandal see:
May 13: Ohio’s Great Workers Comp Coin Caper?
May 27: First Head Rolls in Ohio Coin Caper
August 23: Governor Taft’s Ethic Violations
CT: Broker probe results in $30 million settlement
Joe Paduda reports that another large broker – HRH (Hilb Rogal and Hobbs) – has agreed to pay $30 million to a compensation fund and a $250,000 fine in relation to rebating, account steering, and compensation practices in Connecticut. Joe notes that this hefty penalty is associated with one client in one state and wonders if there are other shoes to drop.
Joe has been a good watchdog on these matters. See also: Insurance Industry Scandal Watch

Exclusive remedy upheld in Lockheed Martin shooting case

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

Over today’s wires comes the news that a federal appeals court has just upheld workers compensation as the exclusive remedy for the nine surviving victims and the families of the six workers who were killed in the 2003 Lockheed Martin shooting in Meridien, Mississippi. According to the news report, this would limit damages to about $150,000. The Picayune Times has a longer story detailing the appeal a few weeks before the judgment.
Exclusive remedy is a strong concept that holds up under repeated legal challenges. Workers comp is no fault by its very nature, a quid pro quo arrangement in which employers agree to provide medical and wage replacement to injured workers, and in turn, this becomes the sole remedy. In all but the most unusual circumstances, employees lose the right to sue their employer for work-related injuries. Sometimes this seems unfair to a worker because benefits are paltry when stacked side by side with enormous awards from civil litigation. But when legal challenges succeed, they weaken the system’s underpinnings. Workers comp is essentially a safety net, a system designed to provide the best for the most, not to provide individual redress for every wrong.
When litigation is successful at piercing the exclusive remedy shield, it often involves employer misconduct that is highly egregious. If an employer can be demonstrated to have intentionally caused an injury or to have intentionally defrauded an employee in some way, those actions might be sufficient grounds for a suit. But the standard of proof for such challenges is quite high

New tools and weblogs for our resource sidebar

Monday, April 11th, 2005

Today, we have an array of new widgets and reference materials to add to the “Cool Tools” section of our sidebar, along with a few new weblog discoveries to add to our ever-growing list.
Want to know what the cost of a poor hiring choice is? Compute the cost of a bad hire or calculate the cost of turnover – it generally makes good economic sense to invest in and keep your current work force happy.
The U.S. Small Business Administration bills itself as the voice for small business in the federal government, as well as the source for small business statistics. If you are curious about statistics related to the size of firms, or how many nonemployer businesses there are, this site offers some good research data.
With the shakeup in the brokerage world today, lots of innocent people are suffering job disruptions. Ultimate Insurance Jobs or Insurance Workforce are some resources that might come in handy.
Among its many fine resources, the Insurance Information Institute offers a comprehensive Glossary of Insurance Terms.
Noteworthy weblogs
Actuarial News by Tom Troceen is a stylish weblog that is “a resource for both aspiring students and seasoned actuaries as a place to gather information on current events that affect how we do business and where we are headed.”
Medlogs is a medical news and weblog aggregator that displays headlines and excerpts from than 80 blogs by docs and medical professionals. Great source.
Construction Law Blog by Dave Seitter is “dedicated to the explanation and clarification of the often complex legal issues involved in the day-to-day operation of a construction related business.”
Unintended Consequences is Doug Simpson’s weblog of “research on the collision of law, networks and disruptive technologies.”

Weblog roundup: business reads, prescription drugs, functional capacity, & more

Monday, March 28th, 2005

Sometimes it�s good to look at the forest, and other times it�s good to look at the trees. To get a take on macro economic and business trends that affect the day-to-day work place, check out Library Journal’s recommendations for Best Business Books of 2004 .
Managed Care Matters reports that the Second Annual Survey of Prescription Drug Management in Workers’ Compensation has been completed. Prescription drug costs are seen as an increasingly significant cost component in benefit payouts. Joe also has a good post on managed care and physician choice.
Dedicated safety activist and blogger Jordan Barab is on vacation, but in his absence, Tammy and Kelly bring us the Weekly Toll and an update on the BP explosion.
George’s Employment Blawg has an excellent post on functional capacity and similar testing, information that can be helpful in building ADA-compliant job descriptions as well as in identifying appropriate temporary return-to-work assignments.
Strategic HR Lawyer notes that staffing company employment is up in 2004. Nearly 12 million temps and contract workers were engaged, an increase of about one million over the prior year.
Thanks to Inter Alia for pointing us to 10 Things To Know About Evaluating Medical Resources on the Web – useful advice that should actually apply to evaluating the credibility of most online sites.