The Difficult and Unfair Fight For Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Let’s face the facts: Work can be dangerous. People get hurt on the job every day. For that exact reason, we as a society, State by State, enacted workers’ compensation laws to make it easier and faster for injured workers to get medical treatment and monetary benefits without having to worry about who’s fault the accident was (or going through extended litigation that would clog up the court system).
Employee workers in South Carolina and other states are supposed to be able to rely on worker’s compensation insurance if they are injured on the job. It is the employee’s exclusive remedy. They ought to know they are protected, and that they will receive important – and needed – benefits in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, that protection is vanishing. According to a recent ProPublica article, it’s much harder to get benefits than it was in the past, even for obvious injuries that were clearly caused by the job itself and not the negligence of the employee.
To compound the problem of denial of benefits, it appears that employers are paying less for insurance. In other words, the coverage that workers so desperately rely on has faded to only a shadow of its former self while employers are paying less and less in premiums.
According to the ProPublica article, which I have already posted and I strongly encourage all of you to read, the workers’ compensation coverage that is still available is at increasingly minimal levels and employers are paying rates comparable to what they were paying in the 1970s. That’s hurting the workers who need it most, because the help they so desperately need when they become injured on the job simply isn’t available to them.
But why not? What’s the real reason that benefits are harder to get? Are they too expensive for the employer to buy, or for the insurance company to provide? Is that why workers are being asked, or forced, to take less and less?
As it turns out, workers’ compensation insurance companies are apparently making more money these days. According to the article, 2013 saw a return of 18% for the insurance companies providing this already scaled back coverage. This is where the fighting comes in. By requiring injured workers to fight with them for the benefits they desperately need, the insurance company keeps the money it should pay out in its own accounts much longer. This may not mean much on one claim, but if you multiply it by millions of claims all across the country, that’s a lot of money in interest earned directly off the unjust denial of benefits to millions of injured people.
That means that valid claims are continually turned down, to the point that it takes years to get proper treatment or the help and support needed. There are claimants who never really get what they deserve even though they suffered catastrophic or very serious injuries. Rather than simply provide treatment recommended by the treating physician, the injured employee gets caught up in a cycle of outside medical opinions or “independent medical evaluations” intended to derail ongoing treatment, provide a cheap way out for the insurance company, or simply force the worker to fight for benefits so that the insurance company can delay paying.
This is why we mean it when we say “We Fight For You.” There is clearly a fight ongoing for the right to adequate workers’ compensation benefits. If you are injured, you need someone who knows the workers’ compensation law and knows how to fight for the benefits that are available to you. The employer and their workers’ compensation insurance company are not going to make it easy for you – or any of the other millions of workers’ out there — who may become injured on the job. Even as you are recuperating from injury, the insurance company may be bringing the fight right to your doorstep. Will you be ready?