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During COVID-19,
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By March 26, 2020 April 2nd, 2020 No Comments

Smart Case Management During Crisis for Personal Injury Firms

Contributing author Greg Chambers featuring Rob Johnson

Click image to enlarge

It’s an understatement to say we’re living through a unique time in the world. Besides getting emails referencing Camus’ “The Plague,” there is an endless stream of information and advice flowing through our devices. And we are all wondering what this crisis means for the Personal Injury industry.  Do patients continue treatment during a time where physician’s offices are closed for elective procedures?  Will our local court system close due to social distancing requirements?  With less vehicles on the road, will we see a dramatic impact to our business?

We sat down with our CEO, Rob Johnson, to talk through what PROVE’s partners should be considering during this time period. Rob has a unique view of crisis times because in a past life he’s been on the M&A front lines for a Fortune 500 company during the internet boom and bust years, in charge of M&A for a Fortune 1000 company immediately after the 9/11 attacks and during the Great Recession, and he’s been on boards during times of crisis. When he talks about navigating challenging times, his perspective can provide clarity and optimism; and very practical steps for us all to take in this time of uncertainty.

Here’s what Rob has to say to PI Attorneys managing their firms through the COVID-19 crisis.

Smart Case Management During Crisis for Personal Injury Firms

Contributing author Greg Chambers featuring Rob Johnson

Click image to enlarge

It’s an understatement to say we’re living through a unique time in the world. Besides getting emails referencing Camus’ “The Plague,” there is an endless stream of information and advice flowing through our devices. And we are all wondering what this crisis means for the Personal Injury industry.  Do patients continue treatment during a time where physician’s offices are closed for elective procedures?  Will our local court system close due to social distancing requirements?  With less vehicles on the road, will we see a dramatic impact to our business?

We sat down with our CEO, Rob Johnson, to talk through what PROVE’s partners should be considering during this time period. Rob has a unique view of crisis times because in a past life he’s been on the M&A front lines for a Fortune 500 company during the internet boom and bust years, in charge of M&A for a Fortune 1000 company immediately after the 9/11 attacks and during the Great Recession, and he’s been on boards during times of crisis. When he talks about navigating challenging times, his perspective can provide clarity and optimism; and very practical steps for us all to take in this time of uncertainty.

Here’s what Rob has to say to PI Attorneys managing their firms through the COVID-19 crisis.

Rob, if you were a partner in a firm, where would you start with managing this COVID-19 crisis?

It’s not an easy time. With so many unknowns, the first thing I look for is evidence. Who has it? Where did they get it? Can I trust it? The way to look at it is there are four types of evidence. Hard evidence, soft evidence, 3rd party evidence, and no evidence. To start, I don’t look for any particular type of evidence, but I classify what I’m getting into those rough categories, so I know what I’m dealing with.

Let’s take a small law firm as an example. They’re managing 200 cases at a time but now everyone’s working from home, consuming bad news, getting calls from clients, not getting information from the medical offices. Things are up in the air. The question on the partner’s minds, what they want to know, is if the portfolio, or part of the portfolio, is going to be affected by the virus. If I’m a partner, I don’t want to talk about it. I want some data to analyze.

To help with finding and sorting the data to analyze, I want to break cases into groups, like late-stage, middle-stage, and new. Then let’s answer a set of questions about each group. Like, if the courts are closed, which cases will be delayed? If my clients can’t get into their doctor’s offices, will their cases be delayed?  With this data in hand, I can start to make some decisions about what to do next.

What would a course of action look like?

It all starts with the clients. They’re the ones that put pressure on the system to make decisions so they can get back to normal life. I’d focus on identifying the highest risk clients, and focusing on the details of their healing plan. For instance, if a client in pain has to miss their doctor’s appointments because of limited access to the office, what can we do to help them? It may require an extension of their pain management program. At PROVE, we’re doing this with our attorneys and medical providers around the clock right now. As many times as I’ve had to deal with a crisis, this one is different. It helps to stick to the process.

Ok, so firms should be looking for data/gathering evidence, and reassessing plans. Anything else?

At the risk of making this sound too simple, no. That’s it. The last part of the process is communication. Right now, it’s easy to get distracted and fall into a reactive mode, but we should be defaulting to overcommunicating with our clients and partners as this crisis unfolds. Otherwise we fall into a reactive mode. Nothing good comes from constantly reacting to news, so we should focus on being proactive with all communication.

Here are some simple guidelines I follow in times like these.

  1. First, communication is about listening and at times like these we need to listen very attentively. Make it a goal to understand what the other party is trying to communicate.
  2. Second, don’t avoid conflict at a time like this. When information is changing and the future is uncertain, there is bound to be conflict. Don’t avoid it.
  3. Third, be clear on next steps and expectations. Check for understanding.
  4. One last thing, limit email as much as possible. The best way to work through decisions is on the phone or in person, not by cc’ing everyone on an email. Use email to inform and re-state, not to make decisions.

With the situation changing every 24 hours, it is important your clients are getting the information they need as things are developing in the world around them. For example, as local governments implement curfews and shelter-in place rules, make sure you explain how that applies to your clients.

That’s good. We’ve got gather data/evidence, we’ve got reassessing plans, and we’ve got proactive communication. Is there anything else we need to know while navigating these challenging times?

Of course, there’s more! (laughing) But that’s a good start.

Thanks to Rob for taking a few moments to share his thoughts and experience on how to navigate the current crisis. If your firm wants to talk through your particular challenges, call PROVE today.

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