Illuminating Workers’ Compensation Statistics from Around the U.S.

Illuminating Workers’ Compensation Statistics from Around the U.S.

workers comp lawyer

The workers’ compensation system allows eligible employees to, with very few exceptions, receive medical care cost reimbursement and lost earnings stemming from work-related injuries and occupational illnesses. These benefits are awarded regardless of who (or what) was at fault for the circumstances that led to the work-related harm in the first place. Generally speaking, unless an employee is drunk or otherwise intoxicated, starting a fight, or trying to get hurt in an attempt to commit workers’ compensation fraud, eligible employees qualify for benefits no matter how they sustained physical harm – as long as they were engaged in work-related activities when the harm occurred.

This no-fault system is implemented a little differently in each state, as state law largely governs how each workers’ compensation operation functions. However, the basics are the same across the board. In exchange for providing a no-fault opportunity to collect benefits in the wake of sustaining work-related harm, employees cannot generally sue their employers directly in civil court for any role they may have played in causing the harm in question. Employers pay workers’ compensation premiums upfront in exchange for the guarantee that they won’t be sued later in the event that their workers get hurt on the job.

The Risks that American Workers Face

Every occupation in America, from writer to construction worker, nurse to fruit picker, executive to mailroom attendant, is associated with risk. The degree of risk associated with each industry and each occupation, however, is not the same. For example, an administrative assistant who spends their days typing and answering the phone is primarily at risk for repetitive stress injuries, whereas a commercial logger is primarily at risk for significant falls and crush injuries.

Millions of Americans file for workers’ compensation benefits every year, in order to seek reimbursement for medical care, lost wages, and other qualifying expenses associated with occupational illness and/or work-related injuries. But, as the risks that various workers take once they “punch the clock” are not the same, there is little wonder that certain kinds of workers are compelled to file related benefits claims with greater frequency than others are.

The Highest-Risk Occupations and Industries in the U.S.

According to the analysis of state-based and national workers’ compensation data, the top 10 industries requiring workers’ compensation payouts due to injury and/or illness include: Nursing, Maintenance, Trucking, Laborers (non-construction), Delivery, Medical Assistance, Retail, Warehouse/Stocking, Repair, and Construction.

With that said, not every workers’ compensation settlement is as significant as the next. For example, a worker seeking treatment for carpal tunnel physical therapy does not face the same kinds of costs and debilitating challenges that a worker with a severe brain injury does. According to the National Safety Council, in 2016-2017, the costliest types of injuries experienced by American workers were caused by motor vehicle accidents, fire, and – perhaps surprisingly – slip and fall scenarios. The costliest injuries themselves include: amputations, fractures and dislocations, burn injuries, infections, and occupational diseases.

Overall, costs associated with work-related harm cost employers, workers, families, and the U.S. economy dearly. In 2015 alone, American employers paid out approximately $61.9 billion in workers’ compensation benefits. Of those benefits, roughly 30 billion was spent on medical benefits and the other (roughly) 30 billion was spent on compensation for lost wages.

Costs related to non-fatal injuries and illness pale in comparison, however, to the costs associated with job-related loss of life. In 2016, California had the second-highest number of work-related fatalities in the nation. Although qualifying dependents of workers who have lost their lives as a result of a work-related injury or occupational illness are eligible for significant workers’ compensation death benefits, no amount of money can make up – in any significant way whatsoever – for that kind of profound loss. The same may be said for truly debilitating non-fatal injuries that cause lifelong pain and/or impede workers’ ability to live their best life. It is important to seek workers’ compensation benefits when injury and/or illness occur, but it is also important to acknowledge that these benefits rarely “make up” for the challenges that injured workers suffer.

A Word About Eligibility

Note that not all workers are eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits in the wake of sustaining occupational harm. Generally speaking, if the company that you provide work-related services for has classified you as either a full-time or part-time employee, you are eligible for these benefits. This is true regardless of whether you are a documented or undocumented worker. However, if you are properly classified as an independent contractor, you work for a particularly small company, or you work in certain specialized industries, you may not qualify for this coverage.

Thankfully, those who don’t qualify for workers’ compensation benefits are often in a position to file a personal injury lawsuit against one or more parties after sustaining work-related harm. Therefore, regardless of whether you’re sure or unsure about your eligibility for these benefits, scheduling a free, confidential consultation with an experienced attorney is worth an investment of your time. Taking this step will allow you to explore your options and to be empowered to make informed decisions about exercising your rights under the law.

Legal Aid Is Available

If you have been injured while engaging in a work-related activity – whether you were working at a traditional job site, traveling, or working remotely when your injuries occurred – you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits as a result of the harm that you have suffered. Connect with our experienced team today to learn more about filing a claim efficiently and effectively in order to better ensure that you receive every penny that you’re entitled to in a timely manner.

If you’re concerned about exploring your rights as a worker because you fear retaliation from your employer, know that our free consultation process is confidential AND that retaliation against workers for filing a workers’ comp claim is illegal. If your employer moves against you in any way for exercising your rights, we will both defend you and do our utmost to hold your employer accountable. We look forward to speaking with you.  

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