For the past 13 years, we have led the way in the claims industry with innovative and proven solutions for workers’ compensation claims. Since the beginning, vocational services have been the core of our business. We continue to use unique strategies for each claim and provide new resources and solutions for injured workers to find new opportunities that help resolve claims quickly.
Our vocational services have proven effective over the years, however, many adjusters and attorneys often struggle to determine the best time to begin the process. Unfortunately, there are some who wait until the last minute to begin the process. That decision to wait can hinder the outcome and lead to higher claims costs. Don’t wait until mediation when you’re starting to face deadlines.
Though we often recommend beginning the moment the injured worker reaches Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), recently there have been changes to Florida law that would make it more advantageous to begin well before that.
In April, during the case of Castellanos v. Next Door, the court ruled that the state’s attorney-fee caps in the workers’ compensation law’s legal fee schedule were unconstitutional, saying it was a violation of due process. In June, there was a second significant case, Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg case, in which the court ruled that the 104 week limitation on all forms of temporary indemnity is unconstitutional and increased the statutory cap for indemnity to 260 weeks, or five years. These rulings could mean more costs for employers and carriers.
Because every case is different, here are five reasons why you should utilize vocational services long before the injured worker reaches MMI:
Allows time to obtain information on medical restrictions
In some cases, the physical restrictions may be unknown or unclear. Earlier referral allows sufficient time to communicate with the treating physicians to clarify the restrictions so placement services are appropriate for the individual.
An awareness of all barriers
Beginning with a reemployment assessment provides an opportunity to explore the injured worker’s education, work experience, and transferable skills, in conjunction with medical limitations. Based upon the individual’s capabilities and/or limitations, the appropriate course for action can be determined for the case.
Provide opportunities for personal development
Understanding the potential barriers involved in return to work gives us the ability to find the appropriate resources for each injured worker. This may include educational and/or retraining opportunities.
Ample time to prepare for litigation
Because the Permanent Total Disability (PTD) petition comes right on the heels of MMI, there is often little time to take all of the proper steps to fully prepare for trial. Early referral allows sufficient time to obtain comprehensive vocational services.
This is a no brainer. With the new law extending the indemnity time from 104 weeks to 260, this is undoubtedly going to incur more costs due to greater claim duration. Starting the vocational process earlier is proactive and can help resolve the claim faster.
Contact ReEmployAbility to learn more about how we can help your injured workers get back to work faster! Call toll free: 1-866-663-9880 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.