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Failure to communicate costs victim in workers' comp case

There's a famous line in the Paul Newman movie, "Cool Hand Luke." It goes, "What we've got here is failure to communicate." It's used by a prison chain gang captain to explain why he's just beaten the inmate character played by Newman.

Failure to communicate is an all-too-common experience our daily endeavors. The costs of such failures can be many. Marriages end because couples don't figure out how to communicate constructively. In the Cool Hand Luke scenario, the cost was a physical beating. When there's a failure to communicate between all the parties involved in a workers' compensation claim, the cost can be a loss of compensation for a workplace injury victim.

Opening lines of communication and making sure essential information flows efficiently may be one of the greatest values that an experienced workers' compensation attorney can provide to clients. An example of when lines of communication are crimped is offered in the following item.

A worker wrote to a personal finance columnist that he had suffered a broken arm on the job in April that resulted in his missing nine weeks of work. In the course of his getting treatment for his injury, his regular health insurance coverage handled a lot of the costs. Now he's getting bills for copayments that he expected workers' comp to cover. When he checked with his employer's workers' comp insurer, he learned that his bosses apparently had never reported that he had missed any days of work.

The columnist's advice was to suggest that the worker try to clear things up through his employer's benefits person. And if that doesn't work, he recommends contacting the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to complain and get action.

We might also offer that if the man had been working with an attorney issues might not have surfaced.

Source:, "Employer, insurer not on same page," Harry Gross, Oct. 28, 2013

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