The workers' compensation system has a long history of providing important protections for workers throughout Lackawanna, Luzerne, Bradford, Schuykill, Lehigh, Monroe, Wyoming and Wayne counties and beyond.
Workers' compensation came into existence during the dawn of the industrial revolution as a compromise solution that was intended to be better than the tort system for both injured employees and employers. The deal is workers can receive coverage for work injuries even in situations when their employers were not negligent, and employers are protected from being sued.
A workers' compensation lawyer knows that many people who sustain serious and sometimes permanent injuries depend upon these benefits to be able to continue providing for themselves and to get the medical care they require. Despite the importance of the workers' compensation system, a recent investigation by non-profit news agency ProPublica warns the system has been under a calculated attack over the past decade. A total of 33 states have instituted reforms that limit benefits and impair the rights of workers. This has led to a situation where many injured workers are left in poverty after workplace injuries.
This was never the intention when workers agreed to forfeit their right to sue their employers for job site accidents.
Workers' Compensation System is Under Attack
Since 2003, states have passed a variety of laws that reduce workers' compensation benefits, limit the autonomy of patients to make medical choices for themselves, and make it harder for people with certain medical conditions to be able to qualify for benefits. In some locations, benefits to disabled workers have been reduced by as much as 65 percent.
A variety of different types of limitations have been imposed, including stricter rules regarding medical care, reductions in benefits and arbitrary cutoff dates after which workers no longer receive benefits - even when they remain disabled. The cuts are so bad that they have been described by both workers' compensation judges and the father of the modern workers' compensation system as being "inhumane" to workers.
According to the report, Pennsylvania has yet to enact any major reforms, though given the trend, this is not outside the realm of possibility in coming years.
Employers and insurers have clearly benefited from the legislative changes made to workers' compensation. Employers are paying premiums that are lower than they have been at any time in the past 25 years. Additionally, insurers are bringing in record profits. In 2013, insurers made an 18 percent return on workers' comp premiums, which made that year the most profitable in a decade. Since these profits are not coming from high premiums, the profits are explained by the fact that insurers are not paying out as much as they once were.
That means it's the workers who are suffering.
Workers need and deserve to be fully compensated for any injury that stems from being on-the-job. Despite the benefit cuts, there are still laws in place that provide protections to people who sustain injuries and there are still requirements that employees get their medical bills covered as well as disability income.
If you are having difficulty getting benefits in light of the limits imposed on the workers' comp system, it is important that you get the legal help you need to protect your rights and maximize the compensation available to you.
A Scranton work injury attorney at O'Malley & Langan can help. Call (800) 817-2667 or visit www.omalleylangan.com today to schedule your free consultation. Serving Lackawanna, Luzerne, Bradford, Schuykill, Lehigh, Monroe, Wyoming and Wayne Counties and surrounding areas.