|Post by Rip Van Riper|
As I am called upon to “Blog,” I confess it is something an old time lawyer like me has never done. I think the general idea is to put something on the web that gives insight into your position on some issue.
This is a dangerous thing. Those who know me well suspect that I am slightly “off” and might say anything. I sometimes become bored with life, and my mind wanders. I am sure that my law partners have a lingering worry over my blog’s contents. Well, here goes!
Here are my first “Blog” thoughts after some extensive time in the workers’ compensation arena, including my years as a Commissioner:
Imagine if the SC Legislature passed a bill that all women who endured childbirth would receive a $25.00 check from the State to compensate them for pain and suffering. Childbirth is necessary for the continuation of the human race. Never in the history of humanity have we concocted a scheme to pay people for it. However if such a bill were law, there would immediately be an outcry that $25.00 is inadequate compensation for childbirth. Many would say it should be a thousand times higher. No one would remember that there was never an entitlement to it in the first place. My point? In workers’ compensation, we should not lose sight of the fact that most injuries would receive no compensation under common law.
Many of those who complain about our system are not politically involved. This is in spite of the fact that the problem is a political one. Although it is rumored to the contrary,
Stan Lacydid not write the Workers’ Compensation Act. It was done by the SC Legislature. Periodically amendments are proposed, and Commissioners are nominated by the Governor. The claimant’s bar is well organized and makes substantial political contributions to candidates favorable to their position. The defense bar does not get paid a lower hourly rate based on changes in the Workers’ Compensation Act or the makeup of the Commission. Consequently they do not have a similarly strong motivation to influence elected officials. Some businesses and other organizations have sought to remedy this from the defense side; however their efforts have candidly not been as strong as the claimant’s bar. For a change in the SC Workers’ Compensation Act, I would encourage this: residents who have a concern about the costs of workers’ compensation premiums to contact their legislators (State Senate and State House members). If one does not know who his or her representative is, go to the SC Legislature website at http://www.scstatehouse.gov/. The power of a letter and a 44 cent stamp to your elected official is surprising. Other interest groups orchestrate letter writing campaigns to various legislators to promote their interests. Over time, a consistent pressure from voter groups has its effect. South Carolina
If you are one of our clients and are near one of the three Collins & Lacy locations in SC, take a few minutes and actually meet your lawyer in his or her office. We defense lawyers want you to be in close contact with us. It is helpful for us to know the business, the employee’s supervisor and who might ultimately pay the money for this claim. Face-to-face meetings create a sense of trust. I have some matters that are administered by adjusters who are a thousand miles away. They have never met me, and there is no reason to place trust in my advice, but they do. On the other hand, I have clients whom I meet with regularly, know their families, attend their birthday parties, etc. When I give them advice, they know it is from someone who will see them again and who is trying to help their situation.
Thank you for indulging me with this first Blog of my entire life. Over the next few weeks, I plan on visiting several detailed Workers’ Compensation topics, such as dissecting the term “caused by” and how there are inconsistencies between the CMS Memorandum on MSAs, and what the federal regulations actually say (could you risk payment of a settlement without CMS approval?).
Until then, take care.
Rip Van Riper