Thursday, October 2, 2014

Work Comp and Baseball

I was watching the Oakland As versus the Kansas City Royals game on television the other night. Kansas City tied up the game and I went to bed so I could write this blog in the morning and good thing - the game remained tied until the 12th inning where the Royals scored the winning hit at the bottom of the inning, far past my bedtime.

The player securing the win for the Royals, Salvador Perez, had six at bats but didn't hit anything until his last when he knocked in a single. In fact, his prior at bat he whiffed so bad even I could tell the pitch was WAY outside the zone.

My buddy, a baseball aficionado, explained to me the next day, "Baseball is a game based on failure. A great hitter hits .300. He fails seven out of every ten attempts."

The odds are so great against the batter in baseball that hitting a pitch less than a third of the time is considered "great."

Sometimes it seems that workers' compensation is like a batter in baseball - the odds of a positive outcome seem so enormous that when one occurs it's "great."

Workers' compensation, like baseball, requires a big team. There's the sale, i.e. brokers. There's policy underwriting and administration - people that consider the risks and price coverage accordingly. There's the employer, which precipitates work comp in the first place. Doctors are needed to treat; attorneys bring and manage disputes. Claims administrators are necessary to keep the claim moving. There are a whole host of other providers performing all sorts of other specialty services.
Batting .300?

And then of course there's the injured worker.

More often than not, of course, the injured worker gets taken care of. Yes, there are way too many cases that are wrongfully denied, where treatment is inexcusably delayed, where benefits should be provided but aren't - but most of the time, likely far more than 80% of the time, a claim moves relatively smoothly through the process.

There are, however, claims that are difficult from the very outset. Sometimes we hear about them but most of the time we don't.

The ones that we do hear about get dismissed from our conscience too easily because the melodrama in their vocalization of what's wrong gets drowned by our own jaded pessimism.

These cases, though, are real. There are real people behind these cases. People get hurt. People get toyed with. People don't get what is needed, what is promised in the Grand Bargain, and set aside as disturbed and having unrealistic expectations.

Some contact me because of this blog, seeking answers, help and remedies.

I have met some - like Linda Ayers. I won't get into Linda's case here - that's not the point.

Linda is vocal, like a few other injured workers. She has a blog, she is active in social media, she posts comments to this blog.

And she probably drives the defense crazy as she is prolifically passionate about making sure the system works for her and for other injured workers.

It's easy to dismiss Linda's activities as the rantings of an unstable person, but she is not an unstable person. She is a person who's case spiraled out of control from the beginning, and we know that the early stages of a claim are the most critical.

There's Darren Fonzseau and Cecilia Watt, more vocal injured workers seeking stabilization of their claims, timely payment of benefits and authorization of medical treatment.

Darren writes prolifically, adding a comment to this blog nearly every post, supporting me sometimes, excoriating me sometimes, but always visible, seeking answers, questioning actions.

Cecilia isn't as prolific, but she is vocal nonetheless.

These are the folks that stepped up to the plate and got delivered lousy pitches - "swing and a miss." At some point there will be three strikes and they'll be out and the next batter will step up.

On rare occasions they'll be walked, and off they go to first base, hoping for subsequent base hits to drive them home.

But we know that baseball is a game of failure.

Work comp shouldn't be. Yes, most claims terminate successfully. The claims that don't are in the minority.

We think of claims as numbers, and forget that people are behind these claims. They're easier for us to deal with emotionally when they are just numbers, and I understand that - I was a defense attorney for many, many years and have had my share of dealing with pro per claimants.

Don't misinterpret the message of the vocal injured worker as that of unstable minds. The expectation of these few outspoken folks is that the work comp system would treat them fairly, without discrimination, and that they would be provided services to assist their return to normalcy.

It's easy to tell these folks to move on, to not "live their claims."

Until YOU live their claim, though, you wouldn't understand.

The great Gerry Spence, one of the most celebrated trial lawyers of all time and founder of a trial lawyer's college, teaches the experiential method of trial presentation: that is, the lawyer is simply a story teller - how can one tell the story well unless he or she LIVES the story for a week; steps into the shoes of the plaintiff to actually see and feel how an injury has affected the person's LIFE.

Before dismissing the vocal few (and there are quite a few - more than you might expect), hear their stories. Yes, there's the other side. There always is another side of a story. Sometimes we fail to listen to both sides of the story though. Telling is easy. Listening is hard.

In baseball the manager of the team listens to each and every player and watches carefully how the game unfolds. Even when the game goes sideways the manager doesn't want to pull the pitcher, but sometimes a reliever must be brought in to get the game back on track.

And at some point the game comes to an end, usually without going into overtime. When a game does go into overtime, the players must also go into overtime - that means working harder to get a conclusion.


  1. WOW, Thank you, my heart is crying happy tears right now. THANK you THANK you Thank you. You don't know how much that helps, no matter how our claims go, it is nice just to be heard and validated, in a forum where I know the folks running it, are truly trying to tell both sides of the story so as to fix things for the betterment of all involved. Thank YOU MR. DePaolo and every one at Work Comp Central. YOU ALL ROCK!

  2. I nominate David DePaolo for the Comp Laude Awards, for stellar leadership, elegant diplomacy, courageous blogging and truth telling!

    Thank you, David, personally and on behalf of #InjuredWorkers everywhere! ENCORE!!! ;D

    Official nominations forthcoming....

    We will also "think harder" on nominees for the upcoming Awards....and ask our friends, neighbors, doctors, therapists, legal peeps and social media buddies. It's hard when so many of us are slogging through these WC War Zones.

    We will tell our friends and tell our neighbors about your blogs and insights, and encourage them to tell their friends and neighbors. WE ARE THE MEDIA NOW!
    #InjuredWorkersUniting #SilentNoMore

    PS There are more of us than most may think....across the nation, and around the world. We'll ask a few more to check in here with brief details of their encounters with of injury, treatment, medical care received or denied, represented or not, how many attorneys have touched the case, how many doctors, was there a return to work, were benefits paid, was failure to treat a reason for no RTW and shifting of burden to the State and to Social Security....

    Prior to my head injuries, #TBI, I was also a 'Database Queen; and supported some very powerful Captains of Industry... I am horrified at what I have learned about the terrors and conduct of too many of the WC Insurance Industry, and I cannot sit/will not still for it.

    Even more horrifying is discovering how many people already know about the tragedies of WorkComp.... and did not tell, and do not tell, even those who could have made a difference in the lives of one or many.

    I was never too good at learned helplessness, or sitting down, shutting up, being quiet and polite in the face of bullying and worse.....

    "WE ARE THE MEDIA NOW"... I will volunteer to help any injured worker in America get their story in a concise readable format that we can share further, and perhaps call a truce between the Corporate WC Defense Teams and Battle Weary Injured Workers and work out a cease fire, and get Triage going for Injured Workers heading off to or already dying in the streets, having lost their health, jobs and homes.

    Let's remember, Veterans are also in Our Protected class of disabled Americans. #StayOuttaTheStreets #ShelterInPlace #LoveOneAnotherLikeThere'sNoTomorrow...

    Remember Remember: "Questions regarding the nomination process? Email Yvonne Guibert, Marketing Director Nominations close midnight, October 12, 2014."


    Back soon... Cheers and Thanks.

    1. Write on Lucy. I agree 100% and the NAIDW site says they have about 5000 iw's on their site alone struggling with this system as it is, as well. Education as to the facts, is key, and getting those fact to all, for the world to see what is really going on for the folks that end up on the bad flip of the wrongful cost containing coin. LOOK OUT WORLD were here and we will not be ignored no more.

    2. Awesome, Darren... Here's a blog I just cranked out... maybe if we share with our friends and neighbors, pages, groups and fellow Tweeters and get the others to do like wise, we can collect more info (not expecting David to do so, his scope is bigger than our cases)... but we can collect stories and identify problem areas, and PERHAPS find some solutions...

      What do you think: It's my best shot on surprise notice, and the fastest blog ever put together yet... :D



  3. Hi David and All....

    In order to reach more InjuredWorkers, here's another little blog with some thoughts on how to thank you by sharing your blog, and how to use the opportunity you have just given InjuredWorkers everywhere to share a bit about their own stories.... on your blog, and bring any long rants to my blog and we'll roll from there.... or not. :)

    Anyway, this is the fastest blog I've ever put together... I hope you let it ride... Many thanks again.... Nothing changes if Nothing Changes.


  4. David,

    While I appreciate that you mentioned Darrell and Cecilia, you could have "pitched" me a "tip of the cap", to keep the baseball metaphor going. I know I don't always comment on your blog, as much of what you write is about CA WC, but I too have offered Cecilia advice, and passionately advocate for injured workers, but in a different way, and for different reasons.

    So what do you say, and toss me softball every now and then. I certainly quote you enough in my blog.

  5. Sorry, I meant Darren, not Darrell.

    1. That's ok none taken, folks get me mixed up with my other brother Darrell, and my other brother Darrell, all the time.... he he he just kidding. Peace and keep up the good fight for injured workers my friend.

  6. Ive been working on this song over the past week, and I know my music is never going any where, and even anoy's some, and Im ok with that, it has served it purpose for me, as it was only to get my voice out, and to be thereputic,which it really has proven to be in my case. Any way, hear it is, and this Article, I have had to share with the world, the one I had to share it with the most is my own Mom. Thank you, for that my friends. The Divide by Me. Peace

    1. One last comment here. For a lot of us iw's it's like this video. for many of us can not get lawyers to help for our claims are small and frivolous to many folks, and the dollar amount does not justify the legal battle to some folks, of course those are those not being harmed by it.. Some state's have an ombudsman to help the workers (not that that helps many. But our voice are locked out economically and civilly from the process any more so when get what I cal an AMPUTATED SPIRIT over it all, and for many it is hard to fight the streangth to fight back. For many its not even the original injury that harms us the most. IT's that amputated spirit and loss of hope, in a system totally stacked against you, and NO ONE even family believes you some times. Many threw the years have become institutionalize over this, domestice violence stems out from this, it's not good for those on the short in of the deal heal... OR lack of a deal as I like to say now... My favorite movie and my favorite Hero in the same clip. too fun Peace
      Gideon's Trumpet (Shawshank Redemption Style)

    2. Some times it's not the Original injury, but the angst or angsting of an amputated spirit that intent wrongful denial can create in 1's life.

  7. Something changed in the comp system back in the 70's & 80's. Thanks to Nixon & Reagan.
    The comp system was to provide compensation while you could not work & also receive medical care. Then somewhere down the road in the latter 80's this system became a profit margin for certain interested folks, where we got not much of anything & the comp system became a billions of dollars bonanza industry for the top of the WCAB & employer food chain. In 1989-2005, 1.3 million CA with their dependents went from temporary disability straight to SSA benefits. As it turns out many of them did not get the right SSA benefits either. They were given SSI instead, as if they did not work. So do employers pay their share of the FICA. NO!.Many of these injured or ill were women, 40, minority & union members & became permanently disabled. As it happens, the unions helped the employers not just in comp to save money but shift the injured to SSA & the SSA KNEW IT with LABOR' being the tether..& we cannot forget the many civil & comp attorneys that are tied to the unions to represent the former unionized injured. SO, there was this push to get rid pf these certain protected classes of people and part of the proof is that some did file in civil court for the biases & were remanded to comp court, which is heinous in of itself for many reasons but the top one is because there is no due process in the comp court. The deck is more than stacked against us to cause immeasurable harm, certain destitution bu also destroy families so some in the systems both comp & SSA profits. Had I known what a brutal experience this was going to be I would have never filed comp claims, but the employer insisted that we do after they caused undo hardship & over medicating us. Part of the plan to get rid of the longest term, higher paid, benefited employee. To add to this huge vat of evil brew was that many of the injured didn't get their health or owed retirements after they were just simply fired after one year on comp. We did not stand a chance because it was the plan all along & the comp system with the SSA& unions all help create which is perhaps one of the most pernicious destructive inhumane systems in this country and that until this this reaches out to a national level awareness, injuring workers will continue to provide the comp & employer insurance based network bloody profits which also go to ex or active law enforcement, paid for out of our claims, to mob gang style stalk us.
    These systems violate our civil rights every single day & yet not one legislator or state or federal agency has given any attempt of an effort to help us, as they are supposed to. WHY NOT? They only send us back to 455 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, home of where the many compromised judicial souls sit in judgment making sure we get little to nothing. while they get the claim money .A great country this isn't. There is a petition for Timothy Perez ( a union man), Secretary of Labor under the federal DOL to get such national awareness. I suggest everyone sign it. Because now SEGWICK , one of the worst is now over most claims, the claims that cost the most money and this country has millions of those claims. The inhumanity of the insurance controlled crooks needs to be stopped & the injured, through no fault of their own can finally receive their rightful justice & restitution & humanity.

  8. "We Are The Media Now"


  9. Wishing that David DePaolo was still with us. He did lend an ear to our complaints - which is much more than the workers' comp system ever did. Still, I believe the WC system is a total sham, a fraud, and a danger zone for injured workers.