Looking for an excuse to brush up on your knowledge of workers’ compensation insurance and maybe catch a Cactus League baseball game? Look no further.
The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is holding its 35th Annual Issues and Research Conference on February 28th at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown in Phoenix, AZ. (You can register for the conference here).
Particularly interesting will be a session on the opioid crisis and its impacts on workers’ comp. WCRI will present its findings on correlates of opioid prescribing practices to injured workers, which could help predict which injured workers are likely to receive opioids.
Another important agenda item you won’t want to miss is the “State of the States” session, in which WCRI will discuss performance measures for various state workers’ compensation systems.
Anyone working to improve workers’ compensation systems or seeking to manage a changing environment would benefit from attending these and the other sessions in the conference agenda.
And data is eating the whole world, not just baseball. Now it’s coming for the legal profession, of all places. The Financial Times recently published an article on how law analytics companies are using statistics on judges and courts to weigh how a lawsuit might play out in the real world. One such company does the following (per the article):
The sort of information that might be analysed includes how many times the opposing lawyer has filed certain types of lawsuit, in which court, with what success rate, who they have represented, and which attorneys they have faced. Once a judge has been assigned to the case, legal research companies can provide statistics on his or her record as well.
Another law analytics firm “shows the litigation history of judges, lawyers and law firms, including win/loss rates for trials that are benchmarked to competitors, the success rates of different types of motion in individual courts and a database of who sues and gets sued most often.”
Proponents reportedly argue that this is a) a more efficient way to go about the business of law and b) a way to identify where the legal system is inconsistent.
That being said, it’s not yet all sunshine and roses for legal system Sabermetricians. As the FT notes, most litigation is dropped or settled, which means there are no public court documents for those cases. Which means no data to be mined. How many cases get dropped or settled? Perhaps as many as 90 percent. Big data is hard when most of the data don’t exist.
So that means doing things the old-fashioned way. One law firm identified by the FT supplements data gaps by using (quelhorreur!) real human lawyers to assess how a case might fare during the legal process.
Another issue is whether anything useful can be gleaned from what little data there are. One gentleman quoted in the article put it thus: “The judge analytics demonstrations I have seen to date oscillate between the blindingly obvious and the statistically irrelevant.”
Nonetheless, as the datasets grow, it doesn’t seem impossible that the ability to assess lawsuits will only improve. Which leads me to wonder: will judges change their behavior in response? The baseball data revolution didn’t just reveal information – it changed how players actually played in response to that information. Data isn’t passive, turns out. It remains to be seen how shining the light of data on the court system could change the court system itself.
So you live in Wisconsin, far away from any hurricanes and ocean storm surges. You don’t need flood insurance, right?
Wrong. The big thaw spreading across the Midwest is a perfect lesson for why you do, in fact, need flood insurance.
The Wall Street Journal reported that in Lone Rock, Wisconsin, temperatures rose 80 degrees in three days, from minus 39 to 41. That kind of temperature swing is a recipe for floods.
Most obviously, melting ice and snow can swell rivers. But especially worrisome are “ice jams,” which form when frozen rivers melt into large ice chunks that can lodge together and block the river’s flow. In the worst cases, these artificial dams cause serious flooding in the area around the river.
This happened last year in Vermont and upstate New York when a rapid thaw followed a deep freeze. In Swanton, Vermont an ice jam on the Missisquoi river flooded a state highway for over a mile and inundated several homes, forcing many to evacuate.
Here’s the bad news: standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. If you don’t have flood insurance for your home, you probably aren’t covered under your homeowners or renters policies because flood risks used to be considered uninsurable.
To address this lack of coverage, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created back in the 1960s. The NFIP is a federal program that provides flood insurance to participating communities. If your community participates in the program, you can often purchase insurance through a private insurer that handles policies and claims on behalf of the NFIP.
Private insurers have also recently begun offering flood insurance outside of the NFIP, as new modeling techniques have helped them get a better handle on the risks and costs.
Flood insurance will usually cover physical losses to your home caused by floods or flood-related events, like erosion – with some limitations (trees and fences aren’t covered, for example). You can also buy coverage for the contents inside your home, making flood insurance a crucial tool to help you get back on your feet.
Make sure to talk to your insurance agent about the right flood policy for you. Yes, even you Wisconsinites out there.