And this is a blog dedicated to Mississippi Workers' Compensation
Follow the leader
Now that Memorial Day weekend is behind us, summer is officially here. For those of you living in Mississippi, it can be argued summer started weeks ago when we were having daily record high temperatures. Regardless, school is out for the kids now, summer camps are starting and people all around have their vacations set with the thought of a warm beach and a cold drink to help serve as motivation to get through these long days.
My wife was born on July 4, so despite the fact that America will celebrate the holiday as the day the US adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring the US a new nation, those in my family (me) smart enough to know better can tell you that all of the fireworks will be for my wife’s birthday! To celebrate, we plan to take a trip to Orange Beach for a few days.
Joining us on said adventure will be our two rugrats. Sawyer (3) and Charlotte (2), I have recently learned, are troublemakers. That’s right. I said it. My niece, Emma, who lives down the road, is about to turn one, and will be following in their footsteps sooner rather than later. As the family is expanding, it’s becoming apparent how the rugrats are forming their own army to eventually take over the adults. Their fearless leader, Saw Saw (Sawyer’s nickname he developed at school), happens to be the biggest trouble maker of the bunch. However, being the eldest, Saw does have a little more sense, and free will, than the younger ones...
Watching our young ones grow together has reminded me of how people, not just little ones, do form a “pack mentality” when working together. That, at least in my opinion, can be a very strong trait. Working well together, especially with people with different skill sets, can lead to better performance as a whole.
However, as I have seen with certain employees, particularly at specific places of employment where the employees work closely together, such as factories, there can also be problems from a work standpoint.
If John Doe suffers an injury at work, particularly if he is a lower wage earner, then his ability to make 2/3 of his average weekly wage, which is paid weekly or bi-weekly without taxes, is not much difference than his full wages earned by working that week. Therefore, there is not much motivation to return to work once he is taken off of work. We see these types of claimants all of the time. If he finally settles his case and returns back to the assembly line $10,000.00 richer from a settlement, it is not difficult to see where others may want the same deal. Multiple weeks off of work, taking home approximately the same weekly wages without working and getting a settlement at the end of the case certainly could be enticing to some. We all see cases all of the time where we do not believe the claimant suffered from a “real injury”, yet one is being claimed and it needs to be defended.
While most claims are made by hard-working Mississippians with legitimate injuries, it is important to discuss the outliers and how to best defend such cases. We generally all fall into a trap where settling a case for the “cost of defense” is the economical move, but if you happen to be an employer or carrier where you are seeing these types of claims, I would recommend you have your attorney take some of these cases to trial and hopefully win, leaving those types of claimants with no award. Sometimes, doing so can be a deterrent for others seeking a quick payday.
Again, I would stress that the vast majority of claims I see do not fit into this category, but I also know some of my readers have cases such as this, or situations that arise such as this. Like any work environment, people talk. Gossip is something that all employers deal with. If you have a situation where employees are looking for “easy money” by using your workers’ compensation insurance, nipping it in the bud and fighting back is strongly encouraged. I have seen work environments become a cess pool for what can only be described as “fake injuries”, driving up both insurance premium costs and litigation expenses substantially.
Particularly for any larger employers who seem to be dealing with these types of issues, please contact me. I have dealt with these in the past and I would love to help make your work environment more healthy and efficient as well.
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Attorney with Markow Walker in Ridgeland, MS