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Workers Comp Paper Files In Age of Small Screen


Reading Workers Comp Paper Files – Too Old School or The Best Way To Handle Them?

Most discussions on workers comp paper files have an element of “Ewww – those are disgusting” somewhere in the conversation.

We are in the age of the small screen (smartphone) or at least a tablet or laptop.  <<Just gross   We are in the age of the itty bitty screen,  not workers comp paper files – or as many adjusters call them manual files. 

picture of workers comp paper files
Wikimedia License – Jonathan Joseph Bondhus

My last two experiences with huge amounts of paper files were as an expert witness and as a consulting mercenary adjuster.   Coincidentally, both assignments showed up in two completely stuffed copier paper boxes delivered by the UPS driver with a dolly to move them – with this grin on his face as he knew what they were somehow.

One positive aspect of these two instances was that I knew the assignments had to be dealt with quickly due to the volume of paper.   Would  I have responded in the same manner if I received the material on a thumb drive?

A secret – I always count the pages of  material on a thumb drive.   PDF’s can be counted quickly.   That way I know how much time to spend on the assignments.  One note – if any of the pages are duplicates, I  still have to figure out if they are duplicates or not.   That task is much easier on paper for me.

Then of course, printers in claims offices are humming all day long outputting thousands of pages.  Yes, they all could be letters or forms, etc.   Many claims adjusters and just not the 50+ crowd have admitted to me at times that they print out a section of an online computer file.

The claims adjuster, supervisor or manager wishes to read  the file more closely or that their carrier or TPA employer does not allow off-site access to the adjuster sections of claim files.    The claims person will print them and take them home with them to review.

What are the advantages or the old tried and true way to adjust files?

From the adjusters come the reasons for Workers Comp paper files:

  • papers of workers comp paper files with silver clip
    by StockUnlimited

    Can easily highlight the important material.   Sometimes that is not so easy in certain software packages >PDFs(?)

  • Portability
  • Notes do not magically disappear on paper- I know all the claims staffs reading this are shaking their heads up and down.
  • Can write side notes on my notes – not able to do that in a system
  • Almost like having a different person reviewing the file – new perspective in a way
  • Did this quite a bit more when I was either a trainee or very experienced
  • Less stressful way to review
  • Less eye strain to review
  • Usually pick up something I missed on the screen <<<very popular response from adjusters
  • Can compare an old note to a new one – easier to do by just looking at different pages and not losing my place when flipping through screens

A caveat – if it is against company rules to print out material and take it home – do not do it.  You do not want that in your personnel file.

When was the last time that you handled Workers Comp paper files?


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James J Moore - Workers Comp Expert

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Management Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications


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