Braving the Wave of Cumulative Trauma Claims: Insights from Sodexo’s Megan Angus
The tapering-off of the pandemic has been countered by a wave of claims — not directly as a result of COVID-19, but rather a surge in cumulative trauma (CT) claims from employees who were laid off or furloughed during the pandemic’s economic ups and downs.
The situation is particularly acute in the hospitality sector due to the vast amount of physical labor involved in daily operations.
And, because of the regulatory and legal environment in California, that state has seen CT litigation skyrocket, which has put Megan Angus, western senior claims manager for Sodexo, front and center.
“CT claims almost always involve litigation,” said Angus.
She explained that sometimes they are retaliatory after an employee is let go, but they can also be opened three or four years after an employee has left the firm.
To counter the costs and complications of CT claims, Angus developed a response plan that has enabled Sodexo to reduce time, effort and expense on CT claims.
“The process starts as soon as we receive notice of litigation,” said Angus.
“It includes myself, claims adjustors and our defense counsel. I had the authority to put it into effect, but I felt it was important to get buy-in from our director of claims management. I also socialized it with the team at our claims management firm, Gallagher Bassett.”
The first step in the process is to determine if the employee, or former employee, is acting from anger, in which case the CT claim can be viewed as retaliatory.
“Many of them are,” said Angus. “In those cases, our goal is to minimize our exposure.”
She explained that, in general, the plaintiff’s bar has little incentive to close cases, so the onus falls on the company and its claims management firm to be diligent about expediting the case to a settlement.
Of course, defense counsel is also charging by the hour, but as Angus noted, “We do have defense allies who are willing to engage with us and not just bill it out to resolution. But as soon as you get one CT claim settled, in a few months, there are three more coming in.”
That last comment is a clue to the character of 2023 Risk All Star Angus, said Carol Ungaretti, managing consultant for U.S. casualty claims with Aon’s Global Risk Consultancy.
“I’ve worked with Megan for about five years. It’s a difficult job, constantly putting out brush fires, or like playing Whac-A-Mole,” Ungaretti said.
“But she is diligent and she is curious. Somehow, she stays excited,” Ungaretti added.
“She knows that what may be considered ‘best practices’ may be outdated. She looks at things and says, ‘I wonder about that. I’d like to dig into it.’ Megan somehow has the energy and takes the time to find new approaches.” &
Every year, Risk & Insurance selects deserving candidates to become Risk All Stars. These are risk managers who, through their perseverance, passion and creativity, make a big difference to the stability of their organizations.