According to a recent Department of Labor report, injured workers in the United States run the risk of falling into poverty because state workers’ compensation systems are not providing adequate benefits.
Since 2003, more than 30 states have changed their workers’ compensation programs to the detriment of workers who are injured on the job. Not only are some workers being denied doctor recommended treatments under workers’ comp, many are facing difficult financial problems because the benefits are increasingly not bridging the gap while employees are either unable to work or working less hours after an injury.
The Department of Labor’s findings reveal that states have indeed decreased benefits by creating obstacles to medical care and raising the burden of proof to qualify for benefits. In turn, they have shifted the burden of caring for injured workers away from businesses to public programs such as social security disability at taxpayers’ expense.
Plans are steadily straying from how worker’s compensation was originally conceived. A quid pro quo of sorts that directed employers to pay for injured workers’ medical bills, a portion of their lost wages, and compensation for any permanent disabilities in exchange for employees giving up their right to sue their employers following a workplace injury. Despite the reduction in employee benefits year after year, employers remain protected from legal action – a lopsided interpretation of how the program was intended to protect both parties.
While falling short of policy recommendations, the recent Department of Labor report calls for more federal oversight of state workers’ compensation programs to establish minimum standards and penalties if a state fails to meet them. The report goes on to encourage the sharing of injury data between insurers and public health researchers in order to identify problems and improve outcomes for American workers in crisis.
If you have been injured on the job, receiving your Iowa workers’ compensation benefits could not be more important so that you can get the medical care you need and the financial support to get through the difficult period following an injury. If you or a family member has been hurt at work, getting the information you need can help you to avoid mistakes in filing you initial workers’ compensation claim, or if you have been denied workers’ compensation, a lawyer can help to to prepare an effective appeal. Contact the Des Moines workers’ compensation law offices of John T. Hemminger for help with your Iowa workers’ compensation or denied workers compensation claim and third party liability claims. John offers an initial free consultation so that you can determine what services will benefit you and your family. Call today at 515-283-2116.
Source: Pacific Standard, “Department of Labor: States Are Failing Injured Workers”, by Michael Grabell, October 21, 2016.
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