Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Justin Case, WANTED, Dead or Alive

I hear about this guy, Justin Case, all the time. He is everyone's default and excuse. Usually when I ask someone why they follow a particular procedure, they refer me to Justin. Perhaps Justin should not trouble me so, because it is perhaps better safe than sorry.

Certified Mail is not in this category though. A single certified mailing was $5.75, but the U.S. Postal Service has recently offered a special price of "only" $4.12 per delivery (should we be suspicious when a monopoly offers a discount?). Pursuant to statute, each Petition for Benefits (PFB) must be served on the Employer and the Carrier by Certified Mail, or such "electronic means approved by the Deputy Chief Judge." in fiscal year 2012 61,354 PFB were filed. This represented a certified mailing expense to the Carriers of $252,778.48 (61,354 x $4.12) to $352,785.50 (61,354 x $5.75). The expense of Certified Mail to the Employers roughly doubled this amount. Side note, without the e-JCC allowance for electronic PFB, that figure would be tripled, instead, or $758,335.44 To $1,058,356.50)

Certified mail is similarly required for Responses to PFBs (RPFB). These are to be provided by certified mail to "to the filing party, employer, and claimant by certified mail." In most instances, the claimant is the filing party. The Carrier is likely to file RPFB in response to about half of the PFB filed (this is statistically true, but it is unclear why each PFB does not generate a response). The certified mail expense of these responses is between $252,778.48 (30,677 x $4.12 x 2) and $352,785.50 (30,677 x $5.75 x 2).

This means that a minimum of $758,335.44 ($252,778.48 PFB to Carriers, $252,778.48 PFB to Employers, $252,778.48 RPFB to Claimants and Employers) was spent on U.S. Certified Mail in fiscal 2012. It was likely much higher.

When you e-file your PFB or RPFB, the new e-JCC e-service Portal allows you to serve this on the opposing parties, at least through their attorneys. This is a free service, eliminating 100% of the cost of Certified Mail “to the filing party.” As the program evolves, we hope to add the Employer email addresses also, leading to further savings for injured workers. I can accept that smaller employers will not register with the OJCC, but I am as confident that the larger Employers will register.

Despite this cost savings, several attorneys have told me that they will continue to send Certified mail copies in addition to e-service, "Justin Case." As noted above, this guy Justin can drive you crazy sometimes. I cannot recommend this Certified Mail practice, even with the "better safe than sorry" admonition. If anything, send Justin Case a copy by separate email through your own e-mail, like Outlook, with a return receipt to show you when it was received. If this process is selected, I recommend sending a PDF image instead of a link with this second email.

Carriers likely have email addresses for their insureds (their clients) already, and can enjoy even greater savings on their Responses to Petitions for Benefits (RPFB), by serving the filing party (Claimant) and the employer through the e-JCC portal.

Perhaps Justin should not trouble me so, because it is perhaps better safe than sorry. Spending a million dollars a year on Justin is not necessary. Filers receive the same confirmation that their filing was received. To understand how, see “How Will I Know.”

There is no reason to burden clients with the cost of Certified Mail with Petitions and Responses any longer. Let Justin find a new purpose in life. And, just think, if everyone follows my advice, and every state follows Florida’s lead, the U.S. Postal Service may just discount their Certified Mail prices further. 

And in that regard, it is likely that the OJCC e-service came to the market similarly Justin Time. Use it, and save your money.

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