Adjuster X

Here’s Looking at You, Kid

By: | March 2, 2016 • 4 min read
This column is based on the experiences of a group of long-time claims adjusters. The situations they describe are real, but the names and key details are kept confidential. Michelle Kerr is the editor of this column and can be reached at [email protected]

An emergency room visit for an eye problem didn’t seem to be very out of the ordinary. The accident report was from Baker’s Day Care Center and the cause of the injury simply stated “foreign substance in eyes.”

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Marie Fletcher was the injured employee in this matter. She was a 64-year-old worker at the day care center. The incident had transpired two days before, and Fletcher was not yet back at work. With a three day waiting period for lost time in this state, the claim was on the cusp of being an indemnity case.

I arrived at Fletcher’s apartment complex and made my way to her unit. I rang the doorbell, and heard a female say, “Please wait a minute. I’ll be there shortly.”

The door soon opened and a woman stood before me with a bandage on the right eye, and dark glasses on.

I introduced myself and was ushered into the kitchen where we sat at the table.

“Ms. Fletcher, I have the report of the incident indicating you suffered an eye injury at work. However the report merely states you sustained a foreign substance in your eyes. I need to understand how the accident occurred.”

Fletcher looked at the floor and cleared her throat. “Well, it was rather, er, ah …embarrassing.” I reassured her there was nothing to worry about in recounting how the incident transpired. As the investigator for the workers’ compensation insurer, I explained, I had to know.

Not Your Typical Workplace Hazard

Fletcher again hesitated before saying, “Little Tommy Flanagan, he … he peed in my eyes.”

I looked up from my note pad, and said, “Sorry, what was that?” Fletcher reiterated the statement.

At this point I was trying mightily to keep a straight face. “Ms. Fletcher, please explain how that incident occurred while you were doing your job at Baker’s.”

“Well, Tommy, who is three years old, has a minor urinary tract infection. His mother had reported this to us and he was on antibiotics to treat it,” she said.

“But Tommy kept wetting his pants that day. I had changed him twice already. The third time in late afternoon was when it happened.”

“Please go on,” I urged.

“I had picked him up and placed him on the changing table. I pulled his pants off to begin the process when he suddenly, ah, let loose,” Marie said. “It caught me largely in my right eye, although the left eye was splattered too. It burned and irritated my eyes. I involuntarily screamed, and that’s when Terry ran into the room.”

“And Terry is …?” I inquired.

“Terry Boyce. She’s my boss. I tried washing my eyes out with water but they still were irritated and I couldn’t focus very well.”

“How did you get to the ER?” I asked.

“A coworker drove me. I was treated at the ER,” she said.”They irrigated both eyes and gave me some drops. They told me to stay off work and follow up with my eye doctor. I have an appointment with him tomorrow morning.”

“Please alert your doctor that I will be calling him to obtain the results of the exam,” I replied.

I thanked Ms. Fletcher for her cooperation and made my way to Baker’s Day Care Center. I met with Terry Boyce about the incident.

“Most unfortunate circumstance” was her comment.

“I heard Marie scream and immediately ran into the room where she had Tommy. She was holding her hand to her face and groping to find a towel,” she said.

“Ms. Boyce, why would you allow Tommy to come to day care if he was ill?”  I asked.

“His mother told us he had a slight urinary tract infection and he was already on antibiotics to treat it,” she replied.

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“She indicated he seemed fine, and the antibiotics would clear the infection up shortly. She had an important business meeting that day and said she couldn’t stay home with him. She asked us to please take him. He’s a good child. Other than the urinary tract problem he appeared to behave normally.”

I thanked her for the information, and headed back to my office. My supervisor dropped by my desk and asked about the Fletcher claim investigation.

“Oh, I just completed that,” I said. “It was a real pisser.”

He looked at me and said, “I’m sure I’ll find out about the investigation — and your remark — shortly.”

The next morning I called Fletcher’s eye doctor who cleared her to return to work. I hoped he suggested safety glasses for her during any future changing duties.

Risk Matrix: Presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]