Employees are frequently injured performing their jobs at their workplace. The workers’ compensation system was created to provide injured workers with medical treatment for their injuries and benefits while they were out of work. Injured workers could receive these benefits without having to file a lawsuit against their employers. The workers’ compensation system has worked well for over one hundred years.
Big businesses want to make their own special workers’ compensation rules
Now, many big businesses want to be able to make up their own rules. They are trying to change the law so they can set up their own workers’ compensation laws for their employees because they don’t want to have to follow the laws that everyone else has to follow.
This is fundamentally unfair. It is someone wanting to drive 90 miles per hour while everyone else has to drive 60. Big businesses, regardless of how much money they have, should have to follow the same laws that everyone else does.
NPR and ProPublica have written an excellent article about this push by big businesses to make up their own workers’ compensation rules. You should read it. It discusses how big businesses make their own plans with their own set of laws. It also discusses how a group of big businesses has a plan to make these changes in states across the country.
If big businesses make up their own laws, who is going to hold them accountable?
As the ProPublica article mentions, there is really no one to hold the businesses accountable. While business want to claim that “opting out” of workers’ compensation coverage is simply making a choice, this article shows that these plans almost always provide much less coverage and fewer benefits to employees who are injured at work.
Also, employers often put loopholes in their plans that allow them to avoid even more responsibility. The ProPublica article discusses several loopholes from these plans that would be extremely harmful to injured workers.
The requirement of reporting an injury within 24 hours or before the end of the shift
I cannot tell you how many injured workers I have represented who do not report their injuries immediately. Many people are concerned about being seen as the troublemaker, whiner, or complainer so they do not want to report what may be a minor injury. As the ProPublica article mentions, these hard working people are unfairly punished for simply trying to keep doing their job under the special rules in these big business plans.
The requirement of accepting a settlement offer
It is unbelievable to think that anyone would be forced to accept a settlement offer made by an employer or insurance company. That is like someone who wants to buy your car telling you that you are going to be forced to sell it to them for $500. That is not how settlement works. Settlement is where both sides freely agree to resolve a dispute. It is not a process where one side forces the other side to do something.
The exclusion of cumulative trauma injuries and occupational diseases
The idea of workers’ compensation is that the employer is responsible for medical treatment that are work-related. But many of these special plans set up by big businesses try to exclude certain types of injuries that are work-related. Some do not cover carpal tunnel syndrome. Others do not cover occupational diseases. Instead of real alternative to workers’ compensation, many of these plans seem like an attempt to increase corporate profits at the expense of their employees’ health and well being.
Why should I care about workers’ compensation?
Most people do not pay much attention to the workers’ compensation laws in their state. They never plan on getting hurt. All of us at Perkins Studdard hope that you never suffer a work-related injury. But we do hope you understand how important it is that these laws are fair to employees who are unfortunate enough to suffer an injury. At some point, you or someone you love may be dealing with a work-related injury. We strongly believe that the health and well being of people should not be jeopardized so that corporations can make a bigger profit.