Friday, May 29, 2009

Examining workers' compensation

I’ve been working in communications many years. Few people know that I once held a job handling workers' compensation claims. You learn a lot about the workplace when you see the reports. Sometimes you hear some amazing stories about injuries and workplace conditions.

I am not an attorney, but I do know that all states have workers’ compensation laws. Most were enacted during the 1920s. These statutes are designed to ensure that employees who are injured or disabled on the job are provided with lost wages, as well as medical and other benefits. These laws also provide benefits for dependents of those workers who are killed because of work-related accidents or illnesses.

For instance, the state of Pennsylvania has established the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The agency is charged with protecting employees’ rights and making sure that employers are in compliance with the law. However, even though statutes are in place to protect employees, circumstances arise that prompt employees to seek legal counsel. For such employees, there are Philadelphia workers' compensation lawyers.

Unfortunately, there are times when employees die as a result of work-related accidents or illnesses. Families of the victims may elect to contact a Philadelphia workers' compensation attorney to consider their options.

The claims process can be complex, and employees (or their families) may be unsure about their rights under the law. In those cases, those affected may ask seek advice from Philadelphia workers' compensation attorneys.

Most of us know friends or family members who have filed workers’ comp claims. The claims are not processed overnight, and employees often want to know what to expect. An injured worker may wonder if the employer is acting in his best interests.

Claims are serious business. Employees who are injured on the job rely on their incomes to care of their families. Any employee with serious concerns has the right to call a Philadelphia workers' compensation lawyer.

It pays to know your rights under the law. Call experts in the field to make sure that you are receiving the protection you deserve.

3 comments:

Lillie Ammann said...

Deb,

I certainly want injured workers to receive the care and compensation they need.

However, when I was in business, my company was the victim of a fraudulent claim so I think claims do have to be investigated carefully.

We suspect that the woman who filed the claim against our company had a back injury and wanted/needed surgery. But she apparently didn't have insurance that would cover it. So she looked for a way to get her surgery paid for.

She applied for a job as a plant maintenance technician. My maintenance department manager and I hesitant to hire her because her experience had all been in office work, and we thought she would find the physical work too difficult.

But she told us that she had just returned from an archaeological dig, was very active and could handle hard physical labor. She was so enthusiastic we hired her.

She worked for us one day—just following a supervisor around in training. She called in the next day and said she wasn't coming back to work because her back hurt.

Her supervisor and I agreed that we shouldn't have hired her because we had been right. She couldn't handle physical labor and was just sore from moving around so much. She didn't even do any real work, but she probably carried two water buckets (5 gallon each).

At the end of the week her husband came in for her paycheck for the one day she worked and brought a bill from a doctor. He said she had to go to the doctor for her sore back. We submitted the claim to our workers compensation carrier, reported on what happened (or didn't happen), and heard no more about it.

At the end of the year, we had to go into "the pool"—companies who have to get workers compensation coverage from the state because they are too high-risk for individual insurance companies to cover.

We protested because the only claim we had all year was the woman's doctor's visit ... or so we thought. It turned out that workers comp paid for back surgery for her and was holding a lot more money in reserve to see if she had additional problems.

The insurance company hadn't questioned it or bothered to follow up with us because the doctor wasn't suspected of any wrongdoing. The insurance companies have a list of doctors known for performing many back surgeries on people other doctors didn't think needed it.

Of course, she probably did need the surgery—but not from that one day of training with us. She was just looking for a sucker company to hire her so she could fake an injury (though the strange thing is she never told us she had an injury—only that her back was sore).

She got her surgery paid for, and we got penalized with extremely high workers comp rates.

If she had really been injured while working for us, I wouldn't complain about the workers comp rates.

But I don't like to be cheated.

Deb S. said...

Lillie, thanks so much for giving us this inside look. Sadly, there are workers who fake injuries and unscrupulous professionals in various fields who back up their claims.

In the perfect world, no one -- employers or employees -- would be cheated. There is another side of this issue, as the New York Times recently reported.

I once worked for a company that offered workers' comp insurance. I heard plenty of tales from employers. That experience was a real eye-opener.

I think it's interesting that the U.S. has no federal workers' compensation statute (other than to address the rights of federal employees).

Again, Lillie, I appreciate your insight.

Rose said...

Wow! This is very educational. i understand both sides. Deb you are such a jack of all trades....