Quick Tips

‘Jhon Elbort Broke Hes Legs’ – A Child’s View of Workers’ Comp


It is worthwhile to step back and consider how simple Workers’ Comp should be. If every professional from all corners of our industry took time away from their narrow daily focus and considered the big picture in general terms, we might all experience a collective re-setting of the communal respect we should carry for the essence of WC’s intent.

One evening in 2005 my daughter, then 6, was “helping” me do work in my office. (As my good clients know, on any given day Risk Acuity might run a robust 2nd or 3rd shift!!) I was reconciling a monthly pile of client first-reports, and she was making sure my finished stack was in date-order. At one point she decided to create a report of her own on a blank paper, mimicking the lines, boxes and random numbers.

When she showed me her finished product, I was initially puzzled. In one area she clearly wrote ‘Jhon Elbort’. Near the top she wrote ‘Broke hes legs’. Every other line was either blank or filled with a quick scribble. I asked if she wanted to know the kinds of information she could make up for other boxes (like the date, doctor’s name, birthday, address, etc.). She replied, “If he broke his legs why do you need to know anything else?”

This perspective is poignant and true. If only every aspect of our industry had such simple respect for this essence. In a perfect world we would share the commensurate integrity to honestly uphold our respective ends of the bargain. Imagine employers, claim providers, doctors and employees keeping honest efforts in supporting what the system should be and reasonable expectations within the limits of what the system owes. To my daughter’s point, this would obviate most of the other tactical, legal and profit-driven “busy-work” we do which has no direct impact on an injured person’s recovery.

My company Risk Acuity has always and deliberately been a sole proprietorship managed from my home-based office. This was a decision I made leaving Deloitte in 2002, shedding the tedious administrative rigors of corporate practice leadership in order to become totally involved with creative client work, suffer fewer airplane trips, and be closer with my family. The type of grounding and perspective this provides I could only wish upon my fellow industry professionals. While one day my holistic project work is bending a client’s cost-curve to the tune of millions of dollars, the next day I will happily help a client’s local HR leader chase a claimant’s mileage reimbursement. The achievement of the former does not beat the personal “thank you” of the latter. In the end, we should never forget that WC is all about the employee experience.

Needless to say, Jhon Elbort’s first report remains framed on my wall.

Barry Thompson

About The Author

Barry Thompson is a renowned Risk Management Consultant with roots in a 1982 claim adjusting desk and branches bearing the fruit of a career-focus on improving Workers’ Compensation. He is Founder and President of Risk Acuity, LLC as well as creator and operator of ClaimAnswer.com. He began publication of Quick Tips in 2004. Each edition brings a unique independent employer-focused source of Workers’ Comp advice, information and ideas.