Workers’ Comp “Reform” Leaves Injured in Poverty, Insurers Raking in Big
Chris Welsh, Esq.
Workers’ compensation, more commonly known as “workers’ comp” has been a contract between employers and workers for more than a century: workers forfeit their right to sue and employers pay for insurance that covers medical bills and wages.
Sadly, in recent years there has been a dismantling of this age-old dignity. Roughly a decade ago, the federal government–a long time advocate and protector of workers’ compensation–quit monitoring state laws on the matter. According to a new study by NPR and ProPublica, states have drastically cut workers’ benefits since this disappearance of oversight. Today, it can be near impossible to qualify for
care that an injured worker was once entitled to.
Under the guise of “reform,” laws are passed to cut off benefits randomly and reduce them dramatically. In Florida, workers’ comp benefits have dropped 65% since 1993 (NPR). Taking advantage of these laws, businesses now pay the lowest insurance rates since the 1970’s and have seized control of medical decisions, often downplaying harm done. In 37 states, workers cannot choose their own doctor; they are restricted to a list chosen by their employer. Adding insult to injury, insurers are raking in more profit (NPR).
Without a sound insurance system in place, taxpayers and the families of injured workers are left to bear the burden of serious work injuries. In need of surgery, prosthetic limbs, and other treatment, injured workers are left to try and carry their families as they themselves suffer. Without benefits or wages, they spiral into poverty, ultimately losing their health and their homes. Also complicating the issue, high medical costs and burdensome litigation further trap injured workers between a rock and a hard place. Without a place to turn, they seek out social security and food stamps. It is estimated that taxpayers spend $30 billion on what should be taken care of with workers’ comp insurance (NPR).
If you or a loved one has suffered from unjust treatment by an employer regarding a workplace injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Reach out to an attorney to discuss possible legal options. Do not delay. By failing to act quickly, you may unknowingly forfeit your right to sue by running over the legal time limit to bring your case, also known as the statute of limitations.
To learn more about this issue and the lives that is has affected, read NPR’s investigative report with ProPublica. You may will find that you are not alone.