Workers’ compensation began as an arrangement designed to benefit all parties when it came to handling on-the-job injuries. Workers could receive compensation for their medical bills and time off of work without having to go through the lengthy process of a lawsuit. Employers, who were beginning to face dwindling defense options in the courtroom, could use the claims and insurance process to better manage costs. And legislators saw it as a way to create a more financially secure economy.
Sadly, those days are long gone.
Today, the workers’ compensation process is lengthy and complex. Thousands of injured workers have their claims denied, leaving them with unpaid medical bills and no paid time off of work to heal. In the best of situations, they struggle to pay for the care they need, but eventually heal and return to work—still capable of paying off their debts, despite being a little poorer. In the worst of cases, their injuries left them permanently disabled (or deceased). With no means to pay their lifelong health care costs of living expenses, they fall into poverty and never find their way out.
What Happened to Workers’ Compensation?
Over the years, employers have used the argument that entirely too many employees are filing frivolous workers’ compensation claims. They’ve paid and pushed and negotiated to achieve reforms that lengthen and complicate the process. Workers and their families are now required to submit inordinate amounts of evidence to prove injuries were caused on the job. In 37 states, a worker cannot even see their own physician for their work-related injuries; instead, they see a contracted physician who may or may not have a vested interest in claiming no severe injury was sustained.
Those lucky enough to make it through the system and receive benefits only receive the maximum amount allowed under their state’s law, which is grossly varied from one state to the next—Alabama pays only $27,280 for the loss of an eye while Pennsylvania pays $261,525. Then, to add further insult to injury, most states have imposed a time limit for which an injured worker is allowed to collect benefits. If they surpass that time period, payments stop, regardless of whether or not they have fully healed from their injuries.
Employers and Insurance Companies Profiting
So, if employees are suffering, and their claims are not getting paid, then why is it that they keep pushing for reform? The answer is tragically simple—because they are the ones profiting. Not only are they filtering out claims, cutting their insurance costs (currently the lowest rates since the 1970s), and imposing limits that decrease the amount spent to compensate for injuries, they are pushing costs off of their budget and onto the American taxpayers’ through disability, Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs.
Injured at Work? Do Not Get Lost in the System
Thanks to years of reform, workers’ compensation has become a system that benefits everyone except the people it should be protecting; injured workers are losing their voice. If you or someone you love was killed or injured on the job, do not let the system drown out yours! Seek the assistance of a skilled attorney and ensure your rights and best interest are protected.
Kinnally Flaherty Krentz Loran Hodge & Masur P.C. has been helping injured workers and their loved ones navigate the complex system for more than 50 years. Respected in their field and highly knowledgeable in this technical aspect of the law, their attorneys carefully analyze each individual case and consider all viable options, including any potential personal injury claims. Learn how their experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys can assist you with your claim by scheduling a free initial consultation. Call 630-907-0909 today.