College Writing Skills with Reading
Instructor: Gayle Ellis
14 February 2010
The workers’ compensation system was created to protect the injured worker; however workers are treated unfairly, refused services, and subjected to additional stress.
The workers’ compensation system was created to protect the injured worker, or that is what the government had intended it to do. It is the oldest social insurance program, and it was adopted by most states in the second decade of the 20th century. When this system was set up it was to insure the injured workers so that they would be entitled to certain benefits through a workers’ compensation insurance company no matter who caused the injury. The system was meant to be a tradeoff between the employee and the employer. The agreement was that the employee would receive benefits no matter whose fault the accident was, in return the employer could not be held liable for the injury even if their negligence caused the injury. Before this system was developed, an employee could sue an employer for on the job injuries. In return, the employer would try to prove that the employee was negligent, or that the employee was not performing their job properly when the injury occurred. This was time consuming process for all parties. Now, both parties have disputes over other issues, such as whether the injury happened while the employee was on the job, or how much in benefits the employee is entitled to receive. These benefits are not necessarily fair, so even though it was designed to protect the employee’s it actually protects the employer and the insurance companies more by limiting their legal liability and obligations. The system is very complicated and if a person is not familiar with the rules and procedures, they will probably not be treated fairly. This is the point where the injured worker needs to contact an attorney who knows how the workers’ compensation system works and is willing to fight for the workers’ rights. The laws in most states limit a claimant’s legal expenses to a certain fraction of an awarded amount, which ranges from as low as 11% to as high as 40%, but the attorney can only collect if the claimant is successful. A passage from the book, Take Charge of Your Workers’ Compensation Claim, written by Christopher A. Ball, and Bethany K. Laurence, states, “I have yet to talk to an injured worker who felt that the workers’ compensation laws were fair or adequate” (1). The injured worker is only allowed 66 2/3 % of the state wide average weekly wage. This is a little over half of what an injured worker would make if he was still able to work, and he has no chance for raises or bonuses. That is a big life style change for many workers and their families, not to mention having to deal with limitations caused by their injuries. The injured worker is allowed medical benefits for their work related injury only. The employer will also offer to let the injured worker cobra their insurance if they are off for an extended amount of time, but most injured workers cannot afford to cobra the insurance with what workers’ compensation pays them. This means they are without any health insurance, not just for themselves but for their families too, until they are able to return to work or can get on Medicare for their disability. If a death occurs due to a work related injury, it’s not much different. A small burial expense is paid, the maximum being $2000.00. In addition to the burial, the deceased’s dependants will receive support payments for a period of time. The amount depends on how many dependants. The spouse and children can receive 35% of the average weekly wage of the deceased and 10% of such wages are allotted for each child. If the deceased’s spouse dies or remarries the children’s share will increase to 15%, not to exceed 66 2/3% of the deceased’s average weekly wage or the weekly maximum. This may seem like a pretty reasonable amount...