Workers’ Comp System Under Fire Again

Does the Workers' Comp system adequately protect workers who are injured in job-related accidents?
Does the Workers’ Comp system adequately protect workers like these if they are injured in a job-related accident? An OSHA report suggest changes in the WC system have made it increasingly difficult for injured workers to collect benefits.

Earlier this year, we posted about an NPR series condemning our nation’s workers’ comp system.  A day after that ProPublica/NPR story hit the airwaves, the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a report that agrees with much of the criticisms.

The OSHA report says that changes in workers’ compensation have made it “increasingly difficult for injured workers to receive the full benefits” and that employers provide only a small fraction of the overall financial cost of workplace injuries and illnesses through workers’ compensation.

OSHA reports that workers’ compensation payments cover only about 21% of lost wages and medical costs of work injuries and diseases; workers, their families and their private health insurance pay for nearly 63% of these costs, with U.S. taxpayers shouldering the remaining 16%. In other words, the workers comp insurers pay only 1/5th of the costs of workplace injuries and occupational disease claims.

Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer Doug Landau is troubled by these findings. “Why should the taxpayers pay any of these costs?” wonders Landau. “There is an Uninsured Employers Fund that I and every other employer of more than three people pay into to protect injured workers whose companies do not have workers compensation insurance.”

Landau strongly believes the insurance industry must pay the benefits for which companies have collected premiums and not foist responsibility onto the state, local, and federal governments.

In addition, according to OSHA, several studies have found that fewer than 40% of eligible workers apply for any workers’ compensation benefits at all.

Landau notes that if the insurance companies are collecting premiums, yet in 40% of cases there is no request for comp benefits, and in many of the cases in which there is a request, the carriers either deny the claims, fail to pay benefits, or delay for so long, then the benefit is illusory — it’s a sham!

If you or someone you know has been injured an a job-related incident and there are questions about your eligibility for workers’ comp benefits, email or call the workers’ comp law firm of Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).