Are state workers' compensation programs sufficient?

Workers’ compensation benefits are not uniform across the county. Rather, each state has its own approach. However, the U.S. Department of Labor may be attempting to change that.

The Labor Department's recent nationwide survey of state workers' compensation programs found many to be insufficient. In fact, the report also noted that many states have passed new laws that make it harder for an injured worker to successfully apply for workers’ compensation benefits. Up to 33 states may have passed such unfavorable new laws.

With a federal intervention, the Labor Department would establish minimum benefit standards for injured workers. Although states might offer more, the federal standards would provide a baseline. Currently, no such safety net exists, and injured workers who do not obtain workers’ compensation benefits may be forced to turn to other programs, such as Social Security or Medicare.

If you have been injured in a workplace accident, we encourage you to consult with an attorney about your options. Certain procedures must be followed, of course, such as reporting the accident as soon as possible to one’s supervisor. However, an attorney can provide counsel on the subsequent steps. Disagreement may arise not over the procedures for filing a workers’ compensation claim, but on the amount of benefits each party would award the injured worker for his or her recovery. 

An attorney can also investigate whether other legal claims may be available. For example, construction site accidents might have resulted from faulty equipment. In such event, a third party claim may be available against the manufacturer of the defective equipment.

Source: NPR, “Labor Report Urges Study Of A Federal Role In State Workers' Comp Laws,” Howard Berkes, Oct. 5, 2016

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