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Does a Bad Economy Mean More Workers’ Compensation Claims?

News about the struggling U.S. economy is hard to escape, and the economic outlook for New York State is no better.  While some worry that economic constraints could lead to fewer jobs, one unexpected impact is that the number of NY workers’ compensation claims could actually go up.

 

There are a number of reasons why experts suspect the number workers’ comp claims might increase, especially in construction work.  The first possible reason is that builders and construction companies could take moves that improve their profit margin, but put workers at risk of an accident which would require they file a workers’ comp claim.  Another possible reason that claims could increase is that workers themselves are looking for ways to secure income in the form of a claim payout – even if they aren’t badly hurt.

Penny-pinching employers cut corners

In a down economy, builders and construction companies can be tempted to save money by cutting corners.  Some questionable cost-saving strategies include hiring fewer workers than a job really requires, rushing construction schedules, and purchasing cheaper materials.

Unfortunately for workers, these penny-pinching moves can result in an unsafe work environment.  Having too few workers on a job site can mean that workers are pushed harder than normal to finish work on time or ahead of schedule, and the resulting stress and fatigue can translate to accidents and injuries.

Accelerated schedules are also becoming more common, with some workers being offered financial incentives to complete work ahead of schedule – and being hit with penalties if they don’t get done on time.  Again, the stress on workers to meet unrealistic deadlines can lead to accidents and other unintended consequences.

Finally, if cheaper materials are used – or if companies skimp on safety equipment – worker safety can be compromised.  Reputable companies builders are unlikely to engage in these kind of shady tactics, but there are always rogue builders who think they can increase their profits at the expense of their workers’ safety.

Nervous workers file claims to ensure income

If workers know that layoffs are imminent, there is a possibility they could file a workers’ compensation claim to avoid losing their income completely.  It is simple enough to file a claim that the worker suffered from something like a muscle injury on the job, which would allow them to collect benefits they don’t really need.  As long as the employer does not question the injury, the worker will receive benefits.  If builders and construction companies are distracted with other economic issues, they may not see any reason to investigate a workers’ comp claim from a worker whose layoff is imminent.  Unfortunately, workers’ comp fraud is a lose-lose for everyone – employers lose out, legitimately injured workers lose out, and taxpayers lose out.

If you are looking for help with your New York State Workers Compensation case, then you have come to the right place.  Markhoff & Mittman attorneys are knowledgeable in all aspects of workers’ compensation law and have been helping injured workers for the last 70 years.  Please contact our office today to find out how we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.

 

 

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