The United States government stopped monitoring the workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts and other states more than a decade ago. According to an investigation recently conducted by NPR and ProPublica, workers’ compensation reform measures passed since that time have left injured employees fighting for their right to receive such no-fault medical and other benefits. Taxpayers in Massachusetts and throughout the U.S. are reportedly spending billions of dollars each year on Social Security disability, Medicaid, and Medicare coverage in order to provide medical and other benefits that are no longer offered by state workers’ compensation systems. At the same time, employers are apparently paying historically low workers’ compensation premiums.
After analyzing insurance industry records and state workers’ compensation laws, ProPublica found that 33 states have passed legislation that reduced or made it tougher to obtain workers’ compensation benefit payments since 2003. In 37 states, employees who are hurt at work must seek treatment from an assigned doctor or choose a physician from a preapproved list provided by an employer. In addition, some states have instituted a time limit for receiving workers’ compensation benefits that is altogether unrelated to an employee’s actual rate of recovery.
Currently, the range of worker’s compensation benefits available to an injured employee varies wildly across state lines. For example, the average maximum compensation for an employee who suffers the loss of an eye in Massachusetts is about $47,000. In contrast, an average worker typically receives approximately $261,000 for the same injury in Pennsylvania. Similarly, losing a hand in Massachusetts nets an average maximum compensation of $41,310, while the mean payment for the same harm in Nevada is almost $739,000.
Although some lawmakers argue workers’ compensation reforms were required in order to combat systemic fraud, others claim reduced payment rates were necessary to encourage the growth of business and industry. This was apparently particularly true during recent periods of economic recession. ProPublica’s investigation revealed that most workers’ compensation reform measures passed over the last decade were designed to lure big businesses. At the same time, employee advocates in many states purportedly faced an uphill battle while attempting to simply maintain workers’ compensation benefits or keep up with inflation.
The workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts was designed to offer no fault accident benefits to individuals who were hurt at work. Unfortunately, claimants may face complicated case law, complex medical issues, and a variety of confusing legal deadlines. If you were injured on the job in Massachusetts, you should contact a quality workers’ compensation lawyer who can help you navigate the system as soon as possible.
If you were injured in a Boston workplace accident, the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. are available to help you recover the benefits you may be entitled to. To discuss your rights under the workers’ compensation law in greater detail, contact Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. online or give us a call today at 800-367-0871.
Injured Workers Suffer As ‘Reforms’ Limit Workers’ Compensation Benefits, by Howard Berkes, NPR.org