Workers’ compensation laws vary by state, but all are “statutory”. “Statutory” means that the legislative body in the state has passed statutes (laws) establishing the rules that apply. So, the workers’ compensation system in Georgia is primarily a number of statutes that were passed by our State House and Senate. This is the case in most other states as well.
Unfortunately, this means that those statutes can be changed. Sometimes, those with money, power, and influence attempt to have the laws changed in ways that are advantageous to them. In the workers’ compensation system, insurance companies and large self-insured employers often attempt to change the laws so that they have to pay less benefits to workers who are injured while performing their jobs.
ProPublica’s series of article about workers’ compensation
ProPublica has written a great series of articles on how injured workers have been harmed by insurance companies and employers pushing to change the law. These articles have discussed how some large employers are pushing to set up their own “workers’ compensation” systems where they would play by their own rules.
In their most recent workers’ compensation article, ProPublica discusses how Tyson Foods has attempted to change the workers’ compensation system in a number of states to make it more favorable to employers. These changes allow employers to increase their profits while avoiding costs associated with injuries from dangerous work environments. Instead, the costs of the injuries get passed onto the rest of because group health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid ends up paying the cost of medical treatment when the responsible employer avoids paying for treatment.
The push by large employers and insurance companies to harm injured workers
The push by employers and insurance companies to change the law in their favor occurs regularly in Georgia and other states. Unfortunately, it often goes unnoticed. Employers and insurance companies reap great profits from changing the workers’ compensation laws in their favor.
But most people who will be harmed by these changes are not even aware that the changes are being proposed. The people who will be harmed are just doing their jobs support themselves and their families. They have not been hurt yet. But, when they are injured, they could find that an unfair workers’ compensation system awaits them.
We fight against unfair changes in Georgia’s workers’ compensation system. We also work hard on behalf of our clients to make sure that Georgia’s workers’ compensation system treats them as fairly as possible. Many other attorneys who represent injured workers in Georgia and other states do the same thing.
But employers and insurance companies are always pushing states for a more “business friendly” environment. As Michael Grabell mentions in his recent ProPublica article, they may dangle something like a large new plant opening (and the jobs it will create) when pushing for “business friendly” changes to the workers’ compensation laws. Unfortunately, in the world of workers’ compensation, “business friendly” really just harms workers so that corporations can have greater profits. Good corporations should be able to make fair profits and still treat injured workers fairly.
How you and others can try to help preserve a fair workers’ compensation system
We appreciate you taking the time to read this article. If all of us are more aware of the changes that are being made to Georgia’s workers’ compensation system, we can make sure that Georgia has a system that is fair to injured workers. Then, if you or anyone you know ever suffers an injury at work, you can at least know that they stand a chance of being treated fairly.
If you would like to continue to keep up to date on Georgia’s workers’ compensation and personal injury laws, you can bookmark our blog. We update it regularly.
Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers. He regularly blogs about Georgia’s workers’ compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.