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Injured Workers Suffer As ‘Reforms’ Limit Workers’ Compensation Benefits

An investigation into workers compensation conducted by a partnership between Howard Berkes of NPR News Investigation and Michael Grabell of ProPublica, has helped to bring to light a worrying trend regarding workers compensation across the U.S. Many workers may now find that they require legal help from a workers’ compensation lawyer in order to protect their families and futures.

The NPR News/ProPublica investigation revealed a number of increasingly common, personal stories, including that of John Coffell, who hurt his back while working at an Oklahoma tire plant and whose wages dropped so dramatically as a result of changes to workers’ compensation system that he and his family were ultimately evicted from their home.

A personal injury lawyer or Phoenix workers compensation lawyer will see these developments on a day to day basis and respond by providing guidance, resources and legal expertise for those who find themselves in need of a lawyer in order to claim workers’ compensation.

Over the last ten years, many states have made cutbacks to workers’ compensation to the extent that many injured workers are almost certain to face poverty. These changes have often been passed off as ‘reforms’, but are invariably in the favor of insurance companies and big businesses under the guise of reducing alleged spiraling costs (most of this cost is associated with increasing medical expenses – not compensation payable to the injured worker).

In many cases, workers must now fight insurance companies, battles that can last for years, in order to get access to the prescriptions, surgeries and basic help recommended by their physicians.

American taxpayers are footing the bill for the employers, paying tens of billions of dollars a year through Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Disability insurance for lost wages and medical costs that are not covered by workers’ compensation.

ProPublica discovered that:

  •  For more than a decade, legislators across 33 states have passed workers’ compensation laws that either reduce benefits or make it more difficult for people with certain diseases and injuries to qualify for compensation.
  • Since each state has developed its own compensation system, benefits due to injured employees vary wildly according to geography. For example, the maximum compensation for losing an eye is over $260,000 in Pennsylvania, but less than $30,000 in Alabama.
  • Many states have applied time limits to compensation, even if workers have not recovered.
  •  Insurers and employers increasingly control medical decisions, such as whether an injured worker needs surgery. In 37 states, workers are unable to choose their own doctor or are restricted to a list approved by their employers.

These have been worrying developments, but Phoenix workers’ compensation lawyers see through the deliberate undoing of workers compensation and can provide some comeback and compensation for those affected by injury in the workplace.

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