Every week, I receive at least one call from a client who failed to receive his or her indemnity (wage loss) check on time. With a large number of files, an insurance company adjustor can be overloaded with work. In turn, things can fall off cycle pretty easily. As soon as I hear this news from a client, I call opposing counsel or the adjustor (if insurer isn’t officially represented) and ask for a status. I rarely hear a good excuse, however. Instead, I hear that the check was already mailed, that it should be on time, that they have no reason to believe it’s late, or that they’re checking into it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard “Sorry, we made a mistake”. I have to believe a Claimant would accept this over the myriad of excuses noted above.
It’s not a secret that adjustors are often overwhelmed. When I worked on the “dark side”- working hand in hand with adjustors, I found out quickly that the adjustor or claims representative position was one that experienced a high turn over rate, one that lead to significant stress, and one that entailed a frantic pace. Unfortunately, Claimants’ bills are always on time. When their wage loss checks aren’t, this will result in 1) grief for Claimant, 2) expended time for Claimant’s attorney, 3) expended time for Defendant’s attorney, 4) expended time for the adjustor or claim’s rep, 5) expended time for Claimant’s counsel’s assistant in preparing a Penalty Petition, 6) expended time for defense counsel’s assistants, and 7) expended time for a Judge. So, a seemingly minor issue proximately causes a host of inefficiencies that needed not exist.
Moreover, when a check is late, a Claimant naturally feels at least a little frustration with his/her attorney because they believe that you may have something to do with things not going right. Trying not to sound defensive, I tell my clients that I am working as quickly as I can on the issue and getting answers- and that I’d write the check if possible. On the other hand, a Claimant should also build in a little flexibility with their payments/bills. I try to convey this at the outset of representation- that checks will often times arrive a day or two before or after the “expected date”, and to assume that it will be late rather than early. But after that day or two of flexibility, then it’s time to rightfully feel frustrated.
In summary, my feeling is that there isn’t really a such thing as a “good excuse” in this scenario. An apology would go a long way with most people, and, of course, actually fixing the problem.