In recent years many businesses have complained about worker’s compensation
laws. They don’t like the fact that the insurance is mandatory,
that rates go up when there are claims, and that employees get recovery
regardless of fault. They feel that complaints are excessive–that
many supposed injuries are part of normal wear and tear from the type
of employment they offer; are part of the natural aging process; or are
Worker’s compensation is a form of no-fault insurance paid for by
employers. It provides limited coverage for employees who have work related
injuries no matter who or what caused those injuries.
However, the insurance plan is not entirely free to the employees. The
law prevents employees from suing their employers even when the employer
is the cause of the injury. The law provides no compensation for pain
and suffering and only partial compensation for loss of wages. Employee’s
attorney fees are severely limited (usually to 15%). With a permanent
injury there is some lump sum payment for disability and the opportunity
to undergo retraining. But the employee has been compelled to give up
substantial rights for a relatively small return.
Employers who complain about worker’s compensation rates might find
themselves paying substantially more insurance premiums if they could
be sued personally for injuries that were caused by work conditions. Also,
because of the low attorney fees allowed on behalf of the employee (there
is no cap for insurance company attorneys), there is a severe limit as
to how much an attorney will do, and often employees go unrepresented
because attorneys will not take on their cases.
The individuals and companies that profit most from worker’s compensation
are the insurance companies (because insurance is universally required)
and the doctors (because they get paid). Worker’s compensation benefits
are rarely attractive to employees who must find the means to survive
on a fraction of their income.
Nonetheless, it is still advisable for employees to retain counsel where
permanent injury is involved. Because this type of compensation is dominated
by insurance companies, employees may find that they are sent to doctors
who have an economic interest in minimizing injuries and who may cut-off
treatment prematurely and/or give a low disability rating. Employees do
have some rights to see other doctors as well as obtain other evaluations.
Their interests may best be served by consulting with an attorney