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Is Workers' Compensation Getting Worse?
Since the early 1900s, American workers have given up the right to sue their employers for work-related injuries for access to workers' compensation. Under the workers' comp system, an employer would provide financial support for medical bills and lost wages when an employee is hurt on the job. That is the way workers' comp has worked for generations, but in a new investigative report from ProPublica and NPR, many are wondering how much longer workers' comp as we know it will exist.
In "The Demolition of Workers' Comp," ProPublica reveals its state-by-state workers' comp findings and few of their discoveries are encouraging. They found that an alarming number of states are allowing legislators to cut workers' comp programs and saddle much of the truncated costs of medical care with taxpayers. The result is low premiums for employers, record profits for insurers, and countless injured and neglected workers who are driven into poverty.
Among ProPublica's findings were:
- Compensation amounts vary drastically from state to state due to outdated laws and lobbyist-influenced legislature.
- Insurers and employers are gaining more control over injured worker medical decisions.
- Many states terminate payments after an arbitrary time limit expires, regardless whether the injured worker has recovered.
- Employers are paying the lowest workers' comp premiums since the 1970s.
- In 2013, insurers had their most profitable year in more than a decade.
Perhaps most alarming is that few people have noticed these drastic changes. Because the federal government has not monitored workers' comp regulations in over a decade, the system has fallen prey to business interests. One of Congress' leading workers' advocates, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, told ProPublica that the number of states trending in this direction is disturbing and that the changes, which are often touted as reform, are "a real insult to workers."
A Tougher Fight Than Ever Before
With so many injured workers left without the relief that they need, more and more workers comp matters are going to court, where judges and other authorities are starting to see just how vicious new workers' comp regulations can be. ProPublica's article concludes with story of a California warehouse worker who was paralyzed on the job. The unexpected withdrawal of his medical care was reversed by a judge who reviewed the case, but the worker remains uncertain on how reliable his care will be in the face of workers' comp laws that continue to change.
These trends in legislation make it all the more important to seek a trusted advocate in all workers' comp matters. As experienced Loveland workers' compensation attorneys, we are all too familiar with how difficult it can be to secure relief and navigate this legal territory, especially when there are livelihoods, families, and futures on the line.
If you or a loved one is facing a workers' compensation issue, then you may still have avenues to pursue the care you need and deserve. Call us at Busch Law Offices today to schedule a free consultation and explore your legal options.