Workers compensation laws should protect both employers and employees. Employers buy insurance coverage so if an employee gets hurt on-the-job, the employee is always covered regardless of how the injury happened. In exchange for covering employees and making sure they get their medical bills paid and have income coming in after an injury, employers are immune from being sued. Injured workers are limited only to making workers’ comp claims (unless they can find a third party to sue) and injured workers can’t get compensation for things like pain.
While this bargain has worked for a long time, it is being undermined. Employees are facing cuts to benefits and many are having more difficulty getting the coverage they deserve. If you are injured on-the-job and your employer or workers’ comp insurer does not treat you fairly, you need to understand your rights. An Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney can provide you with advocacy and represent you as you fight for benefits you need and deserve.
How Lobbying is Undermining Atlanta Workers’ Comp Protections
ProPublica reports that corporate lobbying has been effective at undermining the workers’ compensation system and making employees less safe. ProPublica specifically focused on Tyson, which self-insures and thus covers its own workers’ compensation costs. Tyson sends employees to company nurses or to its own managed-care units with doctors that the company employees. Workers complain this results in denials of benefits and that they are frequently forced to go back to work before they are actually ready.
The problem extends beyond this one company; however. Insurance companies that provide workers’ compensation coverage are making record-high profits, and employers are paying record-low costs. It is the workers who are paying, in the form of reduced benefits.
Insurers and employers have been lobbying states for changes since the 1980s, when more occupational diseases and more repetitive stress injuries were becoming recognized as legitimate complaints that could lead to workers’ comp claims. As costs of claims rose, employers had to pay more, with workers’ comp costing an average of $6 for every $100 spent on wages.
Companies successfully pushed for reforms, with many states narrowing the list of injuries that were covered, making it harder for employees to prove injuries were work related, and requiring more objective medical evidence. Reforms also gave employers more control over the medical care that workers received when getting treated for work injuries, and made it more difficult for employees to be classified as permanently disabled.
All of this has now resulted in employees paying three times less for workers’ comp than they did in the 1980’s, even as insurance companies have pocketed more profits.
Employees need to make sure that they are taking full advantage of the protections available to them, even as the workers’ comp system has become harder to navigate and more restrictions have been imposed. An experienced attorney can help workers to successfully make a claim and fight for all of the benefits that they should receive.
Parsons & Associates, P.C. is an Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm serving Atlanta, Savannah, and surrounding areas throughout Fulton County. Contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today at 770-422-9000 or contact us online if you have been injured at work.