The fundamental principle of our system of workers’ compensation is that no one should be subjected to a hazardous or overly unsafe work environment. Since we all recognize the realities of occupational hazards, this insurance is there to protect employees when injuries occur. Employers and their insurance companies are required by law to make payments to their employees when they are hurt on the job. In Massachusetts, this is true even when the employee had a part in causing their own injuries.
The unfortunate reality of insurance, however, is that insurance companies are just that: companies. They are for-profit and have a bottom line just like every other business. This sometimes, and certainly more often than it should, means that injured employees are not taken care of as fully as they should be. Recently the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has taken notice of this and produced a report showing the impact this “bottom line” has on employees and their families. The report goes on to suggest that this affects the entire economy. If you are an employee who has been injured on the job, holding insurance companies responsible not only protects you, but also your family and other employees>The Costs
The Costs of Compensation to Society
When thinking about the system of workers’ compensation, we need to begin with a basic understanding that just about every employee in our state is protected by Massachusetts workers’ compensation law. However, there are undoubtedly certain groups of employees who are more vulnerable when it comes to workers’ compensation. These are, of course, the employees who rely upon their physical health day in and day out to perform the most basic functions of their jobs (Think construction workers, emergency personnel, and other laborers). The OSHA report discusses how “changes” in different states’ insurance programs are making it difficult for employees to earn full benefits – benefits they are entitled to – after suffering an injury on the job. The report also shows the connection between these employees’ likelihood of being injured on the job and the importance of them performing their job to society. As explained in the report, “This cost-shift has forced injured workers, their families and taxpayers to subsidize the vast majority of the lost income and medical care costs generated by these conditions.”
The Costs of Compensation to You
If you have been injured on the job, you are most likely entitled to compensation. Yet workers’ compensation has shifted towards limiting the liability of employers. This means that many employees who are desperate to maintain an income are accepting fewer benefits than they are entitled to. After dealing with the headache of filling out the required documents, visiting the assigned physician, and missing work, it is understandable that many feel relief from getting any compensation, even when it is less than deserved. The insurance companies are not blind to this. Another symptom of this epidemic is employees feeling pressured to return to work before they have recovered. The financial and emotional strain of being out of work often seems more grueling than the physical pain of the injury. This leads to folks rushing back to work and often re-injuring or aggravating their condition. This could be avoided if full compensation for the injury was obtained in the first place.