Workers' compensation reforms hurt employees

Pennsylvania workers may be interested to learn that, on March 5, a report stated that many states have been in the process of dismantling workers' compensation programs. This means that workers may have increased trouble obtaining compensation for injuries they suffered while working.

The big changes or reforms to workers' compensation have been pushed by large companies and insurance agencies, claiming that costs of compensation are crippling business. However, the report stated that the cost of insurance for employers has been on the decline since the 1970s. Instead, taxpayers are picking up the cost of workplace injuries. However, this means that many severely injured workers are no longer able to access the medical care they need, including medications, medical devices and home aides.

Because each state has its own system, the amount of compensation an injured employee is eligible to receive depends on where the injury occurred. For example, a worker who loses sight in one eye in a workplace accident may be entitled to a maximum compensation amount of just over $27,000 in Alabama, but in Pennsylvania, a worker may potentially be awarded more than $260,000 in compensation. In other states, such as California, insurers now have the power to deny compensation to injured workers based on opinions from doctors who never saw the patient.

When a worker suffers a serious injury in an on-the-job accident, it is the responsibility of the employer to cover the cost of damages sustained by the worker. An attorney may help an injured worker demonstrate the full cost in damages that the worker sustained, including the cost of treatment and medications, loss of income and, if the worker suffered a life-altering injury, the cost of living with the injury.

Source: KUNC, "Injured Workers Suffer As 'Reforms' Limit Workers' Compensation Benefits," Howard Berkes, March 5, 2015

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