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‘Workers’ Comp,’ the TV show

By Jay MacDonald · Bankrate.com
Friday, April 15, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

Can the zany antics of deadbeat employees who dare to collect workers' compensation compete with the white-collar humor of "The Office"? We'll see as production ramps up on "Workers' Comp," a new half-hour sitcom now shooting in Florida.

I blinked twice at the article about it in Insurance Journal. I mean, what could be funnier than a sitcom built around a fictitious family-owned insurance company run by a wacky matriarch (Morgan Fairchild of "Falcon Crest" fame) that ferrets out workers' comp freeloaders? Throw in a Carradine (Robert from "Revenge of the Nerds") and a Soprano (David Proval, who played Richie Aprile) and I'm doubled over already!

Can 19-year-old co-writer and star Castille Landon make a sitcom about workers' comp funny?

What's next, "Magnum, L.I." for life insurance? "My Mother the Car Insurance"?

The producers say their goal is to provide "insight into the who's-scamming-who" dynamic between insurance companies and claimants, with said insights coming from 19- year old Castille Landon, who stars as Zoe and co-wrote the script based on her family's workers' comp insurance business.

In real life, workers' comp is rarely spit-take funny, whether for the injured worker, the frustrated boss, the phalanx of co-workers who frequently have to pick up the slack or the insurance carrier who must sort out the legitimate claims from the bogus. Our current economic uncertainty and high unemployment rates jack up the tension on all fronts.

A few LJ readers shared my skepticism that this show at this time may not be hilarious:

"Why do I get the feeling this show will do little to dispel the 'Insurance Companies are Crooks' mindset of the American public?" said one.

"WC in not a laughing matter," wrote another. "We have a new client who has a landscaping business who had a $125,000 claim because one of his employees tore his Achilles tendon. No laughing matter indeed. Now his rates went skyrocketing and he's out there shopping for a better rate."

And a third: "Most claims ARE NOT fraudulent, but many insurance carriers commit fraud upon the innocent victims of occupational injuries and hide behind the premise of litigation privilege to shield them from any criminal charges. By the insurance industry's own admission injured worker fraud is less than 1 percent. So why don’t we hear about the other 99 percent. It’s all about the money!"

What do you think? Is it high time we injected some levity into the workers' comp dysphoria? Or is this a classic case of bad taste and timing?

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4 Comments
kierM
April 20, 2011 at 4:40 am

I think workers comp. sitcom won't be funny. I heard of a news that mentioned about workers compensation causes mental stress and anxiety. The stress in the workplace becomes a major concern for managers,employers and government agencies. The loss of job can be devastating and putting unemployed workers at risk for physical illness.

Homeless
April 18, 2011 at 9:19 am

My father worked as a detective for the city where he was a cop. His job was to investigate these types of claims on behalf of the city (sort of against his fellow cops and firefighters). He would catch the cop claiming they could barely walk, dancing on tables at the local nightclub. It happens A LOT more than people realize. SOME people are just better at playing the victim, so they may never get caught.

Makes it difficult for someone like my sister, that lost the tip of her finger in a bank vault that was improperly installed. She got nothing aside from the medical bills covered, despite what a traumatic effect it had on her (she was about 22 years old when it happened). She was not even able to get them to cover a prosthetic. It was on her left hand, so she felt she had to even avoid the normally beautiful wedding photographs people normally have taken of their rings. It was a sad situation and workman's comp did nothing to compensate her for the pain and suffering she has (and does) endure.

Jay MacDonald
April 18, 2011 at 5:57 am

Thanks for your comments, Dori. I wish you and Castille all the best of luck. I look forward to the series.

Dori Sperko
April 17, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Hi Jay ~
Fun blog you have here. Just a little insight: my daughter (Castille) wrote the Workers' Comp pilot and I can assure you that the show is NOT about legitimate claimants who suffer compensable on-the-job injuries. Clearly, that's not funny. The show gets it's levity from folks who are make claims for injuries (and alleged injuries) arising out of their own outrageous behavior. The show also pokes fun at crazy settlement tactics & behavior on the other side of the table. The show is INSPIRED by real life claims and by real folks who worked in our family business. Anyone who has ever worked in the Work Comp arena has to know that crazy circumstances abound in our industry, just as in most every industry. I promise you this: the humor is balanced. We have no agenda to portray all claimants as frauds, nor to portray the carriers as evil. The majority of the humor is centered around good people behaving strangely, regardless of which "side" they're on. One thing I definitely learned after 25 years in this industry: things may not always be as they, at first, appear....a good adjuster always INVESTIGATES before drawing a conclusion. Given that, I would humbly request that folks watch an episode before drawing conclusions.