Thursday, May 21, 2015

Motorcycles, Italy and Comp

This is my last blog post until after June 3.

I'm going on vacation. Leaving on a jet plane with my son to ride motorcycles in the Tuscany region of Italy.

Interestingly enough, there was an article in Business Insider the other day on how teenagers can convince their fathers (and they were adamant to ask Dad, not Mom...) to permit motorcycle ownership.

My motorcycle affliction started early. I was 10 years old when a neighborhood kid got one of those hard tailed, Tecumsah lawn mower engine powered mini bikes.

I'm sure you've seen The Simpsons, and when Bart and Lisa want something they engage in an endless verbal assault on the parents until they get what they want.
I don't think it gets better....
That was my brother and me. Mom of course was sure that we were either going to kill ourselves, get maimed and disabled in the process, or get tattoos and join the Hell's Angels.

Dad was more circumspect. Since I had, for example, already attempted parachuting with a bed sheet from the second story roof of our home (along with many other death defying antics), he figured I was going to get killed, maimed and disabled and/or get a tattoo even without a motorcycle.

And besides, "you meet the nicest people on a Honda."

So he came home with Honda's answer to the mini-bike, a much more refined solution, the Trail 50. Hard tail, three speed centrifugal clutch transmission and folding handlebars.

45 years later, and of course many injuries and, yes, trips to the emergency room, and I'm proud to say that the same lessons I learned riding and owning motorcycles have been passed along to my children (though my daughter doesn't presently own or ride, but she's busy guiding tourists in Alaska rock climbing, zip-lining and trail hiking).

The Business Insider article lists 8 things a teenager can do to convince Dad to permit motorcycle ownership - these of course are applicable to workers' compensation (you knew that!):

1. Preface your argument with accomplishments. Much has been made lately about the general media attack on workers' compensation. If we are being honest with ourselves, a lot of these articles have enough truth to them to make us hurt - we don't like that reality. But the opposite reality is true as well: this industry does a lot of good too. We need to be more verbal about our accomplishments, but also acknowledge (and seek to rectify) our shortcomings.

2. Point to your responsibilities. We accomplish good things, and we have responsibility for millions of people and billions of dollars. It's not an easy job and it takes maturity and professionalism to carry out the mission.

3. Remind him of his younger self. We go there often enough, but that time was several generations ago, and the history isn't appreciated. What can be more scary, however, as a business owner than facing a jury of your peers about to determine just how much money you are going to have to pay, without limitation? Hmmm, all of a sudden the set financial limits of workers' compensation seem like a bargain.

4. Register for a [motorcycle safety] class before talking to him. Work comp is complex. We do lots of things and navigate conflicting laws to get to an outcome that hopefully is positive. The only way to do this is to stay educated and up to date on the ever changing subtleties of workers' compensation law and how it intertwines with other medical and disability laws.

5. Involve him in the decision. Once a claim gets into our collective hands, communications with both the employer and injured worker tend to get stifled. There are lots of required legal notices that go out, for sure, but no lay person can understand them. Frequent telephone calls and personal meetings informing of status, and inviting comment or participation in the decision making process go a very long way towards smooth claim management (and hugely reduced litigation rates).

6. Have the gear already picked. In other words, be prepared to demonstrate that you are ready to take on the responsibility and be safe. Show the employer and the injured worker that you have the necessary "gear" to manage the claim efficiently, safely, expertly, to a desired outcome.

7. Deploy the male bonding argument. This is about riding with Dad. And its about riding with the employer and the claimant - we're in this all together. This is a shared adventure that will build us in many ways to be better people.

8. Learn the details. Study as much as you can about what you are engaging in and present as many options as possible. Read. Learn. Connect.

Yes, pitching workers' compensation to the employer grumbling about the expense, or the injured worker frightened by the process, is much like convincing Dad to allow you to get a motorcycle. The perceptions can be overridden by cogent and responsible evidence.

WorkCompCentral does this every first Saturday of December - this year, 12/05/2015 - with our Comp Laude Awards and Gala. This year it's national in scope and we're going to tell the rest of the world that workers' compensation can work and do good things when executed properly. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I discussed some of this with Alan Gurvey, managing partner of applicant law firm Rowen, Gurvey & Win, last night which was recorded for his radio show, Gurvey's Law, on Los Angeles a.m. frequency 790 (KABC Talk Radio). It will air Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. It will also be posted as a podcast here.

I'll be back in a few weeks to tell you, likely, that there really isn't much better than riding Ducati Multistrada motorcycles around Italy with your son.

I'm sure there isn't ... but I do need to confirm this. Type at you in a couple weeks.

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