February 28, 2022

A Time for Teaching

By: Amy Siegel Oran.

I absolutely love what I do. For over twenty years now, I have defended the interests of businesses and their workers’ compensation carriers, and it never gets old. Each injury is different, each claim is different, and how we approach each case is different. How could I possibly get bored? It is not just about being a lawyer and doing that lawyering stuff that helps it stay fresh and exciting; it’s about the opportunities I get to work closely with my clients and have occasions to share my decades of knowledge through seminars.

My mother taught high school; perhaps I inherited a little bit of the genetic makeup to enjoy helping others learn. I continue to learn something new every day, and I like to prove learning can be fun. Seminars aren’t just about CEU credits. The credits are a bonus, but learning about new topics one does not encounter daily or things about which they’d once learned, but could use a bit of a refresher is the real key.

The secret to providing an effective seminar is not just about offering a clear and complete recitation of different facets of the chosen topic; it’s about making the learning fun. Of course, goofy PowerPoint pictures and some of the craziest (yet real-life) stories help keep everyone enjoying it, but to help absorb the lessons, the speaker has to engage the audience.

It’s easy to believe the time of seminars is over; one more thing COVID destroyed. Let me tell you that’s not the case. Yes, for now, we have to say “good-bye” to the live presentation; but we say “hello” to the Webinar, allowing us to reach a greater audience of those who work-from-home or employees of one company with multiple offices. With the Beatles song lyric “you say good-bye, and I say hello, hello, hello” running through my head, I submit these learning opportunities are better than ever.

Let me be blunt; I got a little sick of the same old topics with the same outlines we have used for years. It’s 2022, and time for a fresh start. So, I wrote new seminars and gave facelifts to some of the old ones, and that’s what I am most excited about right now. I want to share this with everyone! Here’s a taste of this refresher project I took on.

Some of what we present are what workers’ comp coordinators, adjusters, or risk managers absolutely need to know to successfully handle claims in the State of Florida, so I started at the beginning with preparing both a one and two-hour version of Workers’ Comp 101. While that provides the foundation, the next step of claims handling must be determining compensability, so I was proud to prepare an up-to-date version of Arising out of and in the Couse and Scope of Employment. If that’s not enough about this core piece of claim assessment, I wrote a new course on Burdens of Proof for Compensability in Workers’ Compensation Claims. If that is not exactly what’s wanted, Establishing Compensability and the Exceptions Thereto is on the menu as well. Those are just a few of the classes we have to help establish the direction of your case. To investigate your claim, one of my absolute favorite outlines of those I wrote is Choosing the Best Tools for Discovery: Pick-ax or Paintbrush; it’s all about how to treat your case like an archaeological dig.

It is no secret that adjusters hate depositions. In my experience, the adjusters who provide the strongest testimony are those who were best prepared and who best organized all of the information in a format where the key claim issues are easy to find and reference. The fear and hesitation are usually borne of a feeling of lack of preparedness, and that, I can fix.

Allow me to introduce you to Adjuster Depositions, Mastering the Art of Testifying. You may be one of those people who believe they are terrible in deposition; I submit you’ve simply never been well-prepared, and that is not hard to remedy. Often the concerns that trip up witnesses is remembering the nuances of the adjusters’ timelines and legal obligations to handle something within a set period of time. Our updated version of Workers’ Compensation Deadlines will help in the everyday work and ensure the deponent sounds like an expert when being deposed, even on the nitpicky topic of Statutorily imposed timelines.

My love of teaching does not stop at the adjuster level. If someone wants to listen and learn about this area of the law and claim administration, I am ready to talk! This includes helping the WC Coordinators, HR Reps, and Risk Managers; that’s just as important.

While the courses I’ve mentioned are helpful for the company representatives too, there is also a class I designed just for them: Return to Work Policies Make Sense. All too often I hear from the companies with which I work that medication is a barrier to bringing someone back to work. Also, I regularly field questions about the use of medical marijuana on the job. Borrowing from the iconic 80s TV commercial, I brought together a variety of random, yet related and intertwined topics in This is Your WC Claim – This is Your WC Claim on Drugs. It is not a subject of which I want to make light, but presenting it in a fun and interesting manner is still important; and in case you are wondering, yes, there is a sunny-side-up egg in my PowerPoint!

Although the bulk of the cases I handle are relatively standard industrial accident claims, at any given time, I devote a piece of my practice to those accidents and injuries that are immediately disastrous and tragic. Some are death claims, but many are matters wherein the focus is more on ensuring a severely injured employee is provided with the best care available to save lives and return whatever degree of functioning can be restored.

Litigation often takes a back seat, but when the time is right, having the knowledge, experience, and qualifications to negotiate and properly work to settle claims valued at well over one million dollars is not easy. While proficiency can only be gained from practice, I can and did share core knowledge from the claims-handling point of view in Catastrophic Claim Handling: Investigation, Management, and Settlement. To manage cases where limbs are lost, traumatic brain injuries are sustained, and people have lost the ability to walk, takes a far different approach and even a delicacy not encountered with the more common back strains and torn menisci. This is an introduction to a topic on which everyone who handles claims should have at least a working knowledge.

The best thing about all of this is that it is a constantly evolving process. I dream up ideas of topics and try to get it all down on paper before I forget; we then submit it to the State for approval, and we are ready to bring it to you for credit hours.

My ideas can only get us so far though; to be an effective teacher, I need to answer the questions of those I wish to teach. So, give me a topic, tell me what you want to learn, and challenge me to prepare a new seminar dedicated to your interests. It has been done before, and with your help, it will be done again. I want to talk to you and offer these seminars, as well as decide what program should be our next to draft.

At least a dozen times a day, I either say or type in an e-mail – “how can I help you?” So, I will conclude with one final ask; please, tell me, how I can help you?

If you are interested in arranging a seminar on any of these topics or others, please reach out to Amy directly at aoran@kklaw.com or (800) 718-9865.

Click here to view all our Workers’ Compensation blog posts.

Amy Siegel Oran is a Partner and Business Unit Leader at Kelley Kronenberg, focusing her practice on Workers’ Compensation.

Contact Amy Siegel Oran at:
Phone: (800) 718-9865
Email: asiegel@kklaw.com

DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as a courtesy and is intended for the general information of the matters discussed above and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Neither Kelley Kronenberg, nor its individual attorneys or staff, are responsible for errors, omissions and/or typographical errors – always seek competent legal counsel.