Reforms to the workers’ compensation system have occurred off and on for years, but recent trends, largely pushed for by business and insurance lobbies, have taken a disturbing turn from the search for efficiency of past trends.
Workers’ compensation systems originally came about at the beginnings of the industrial revolution as an agreement between companies and their employees that would reduce overall costs by promoting efficiency. What it essentially boiled down to is that in exchange for not bringing a lawsuit against their employer an injured worker would be provided with adequate compensation to allow them to recover from their injury and resume a productive life. By agreeing to arbitrate these disputes, in good faith, outside of the courtroom, injured workers were able to receive compensation for their injuries more quickly, and all parties involved could save the costs of protracted litigation.
Over the years changes have been made to the laws enforcing this system, with the idea of both better protecting the rights of injured workers, and also to make the workers’ compensation system more streamlined and efficient. As with any negotiation compromises had to be made, but the end results were beneficial to the workers, the companies, and the public at large.
Now, however, there is a quickly growing trend towards drastic cuts in America’s workers’ compensation system, and it has gotten bad enough in some areas that any sort of serious work-related injury will almost certainly result in the worker ending up living in poverty.
By drastically cutting back on workers’ compensation benefits, companies and their insurance carriers have shifted the responsibility for helping their injured employees off their company balance sheets and onto American taxpayers in the form of increased Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security Disability Insurance withholdings. But the people who are hurt the worst by these changes are the workers—instead of good faith negotiations like they would have gotten in the past, collecting workers’ compensation benefits that are owed them has become a drawn out and tedious process that involves fighting with the insurance company over every single place they feel that there is a cost that could be cut or a benefit that could be denied. Increasingly, the employers and their insurance companies have been gaining control over medical decisions in these cases; rather than a doctor, injured workers have been finding that an insurance adjustor is deciding what treatment they need and where they can receive it.
Illusionary Cost Increases
The reason lobbyists have been giving to state and federal governments why they feel these changes are necessary is the monumentally increasing costs of the workers’ compensation system. However, in reality, employers are currently paying the lowest workers’ compensation insurance rates since the 1970s, and the most recent available data shows that in 2013 workers’ compensation insurance providers have had overall the most profitable fiscal year in more than a decade, making around an 18 percent return. The argument of increasing costs forcing changes is not only invalid, but not based in reality whatsoever.
Get An Attorney
Workers’ compensation was never intended to be an adversarial system, but that is exactly what you may face if you are injured on the job. The claims adjusters will do everything they can to pay you as little as they can, and their ideal is to not pay on your claim at all. The best thing you can do if you or a loved one has been hurt on the job is to get an experienced Tampa workers’ compensation attorney on your side as quickly as possible. Your company and their insurers will have attorneys on their side, and you need one too.