The need for change has been the topic of conversation within the workers’ compensation system for years. Billions of dollars are lost every year to fraud. Workers, employers and even those in the medical profession have been caught taking advantage of a system designed to provide benefits to injured workers. With each instance of fraud or misuse of benefits, the harder it becomes for employees who are legitimately entitled to benefits to receive compensation.
States across the nation are considering workers’ compensation reforms, many of which strip workers of their benefits while making it easier for the insurance company to deny claims. By saving money on one hand, these changes will most likely shift the responsibility from the insurance company to other programs funded by taxpayers dollars.
Another change which may alter the way workers’ compensation claims are handled is the increasingly mobile world in which we live. Employers are taking advantage of technology and reducing costs by allowing workers to telecommute or work from home. The traditional line dividing work space and time and personal space and time has now become blurred, making it difficult if not impossible to determine if an injury occurred “at the workplace”.
If you are fortunate enough to prove the accident occurred at work, qualifying for benefits may still be an elusive endeavor. Alabama news WAFF.com reports, “The Alabama supreme court ruled for the first time on a workers’ comp case. It was regarding a woman who fell at work and broke her wrist. The injured worker could not prove it happened because of the work she was assigned to do, and in turn the supreme court said the company would not be held responsible.”
Changes taking place within the workers’ compensation system will likely limit the number of claims that are paid out by insurance companies. This will lower premiums for employers however who will pay the ultimate price? Have we reached the point where decades of fraud, misuse and abuse of the system have now resulted in changes which make it even more difficult for the worker legitimately suffering from a workplace injury to receive compensation? If you are injured at work, what are the chances you will receive the compensation you deserve?