Of course, I still pay -- we all pay -- to live in this litigious land in the form of higher premiums or by shelling out more for products and services, and as everyone knows, there's always a lawyer involved in any link of a large important transaction -- closing on a home or signing estate and trust documents.
What I'm talking about are direct, out-of-pocket payments to resolve disputes like the tens of millions of dollars insurance companies pay to defend in court the policies they underwrite on behalf of insureds.
In our Risk Innovator? issue this month, on Page 52, a West Virginia building trades consortium has gone a long way to forestalling litigation between tradesmen disabled on the job and his or her employer and insurer.
This approach involves communicating frequently with workers about the claims process. In short, the strategy involves breaking barriers before they take root. More broadly, every workers' comp professional should be keeping a close eye on what is going on in West Virginia now that insurers there compete in the free market.
West Virginia is a blank slate, ripe for the development of industry best practices, and when two parties choose to cooperate rather than to litigate, it means less for lawyers to whom we already pay enough.
--By Cyril Tuohy, managing editor
September 15, 2012
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