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Trends in Workers' Compensation

NCJ Number
Trial Volume: 33 Issue: 10 Dated: (October 1997) Pages: 52-55,58-59
G R McDonald; L A McDonald
Date Published
6 pages
Changes in State workers' compensation systems from 1991 to 1996 saved $3.6 billion nationwide, but the savings have occurred at the expense of injured workers and have denied them the minimum financial sustenance they need to become healthy and go back to work.
The State laws are part of an attempt by the insurance industry and big business to reduce the effectiveness of individual State workers' compensation systems. Law reforms in various States have reduced the period of temporary total disability benefits, condoned ex parte contact between the claimant's physician and the insurance carrier's attorney, stop or drastically limit benefits once an injured worker reaches maximum medical improvement even if the person remains 100 percent disabled. The American Insurance Association is already lobbying for additional State law reforms such as limiting or abolishing claims for repetitive motion injuries and other soft tissue injuries and eliminating benefits for most occupational disease claims. A possible strategy for workers, unions, and attorneys to use to counter these reforms is to initiate a massive drive for new legislation on workplace safety and better workers' compensation benefits and to reeducate legislators and the public about the harm that current legislative efforts pose to injured workers. Additional recommended actions and reference notes