It is getting more difficult and challenging for injured and ill workers to obtain proper workers’ compensation benefits.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a report, “Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job.” The report states that the weight of costs of workplace injuries are slowly shifting from employers and insurers to the taxpayers and workers. Programs like Medicare and Medicaid do little to ease the burden off the shoulders of injured workers and their families.
Who Pays for the Costs of Work-Related Injuries?
Statistics reveal that each year, about 3 million workers are injured on the job, but only 40% of the eligible workforce applies for compensation benefits. Because of the difficulties injured employees face in applying for workers’ compensation benefits and the limited amount that they get (about 21% of the total cost), injured employees often turn to alternative options like Medicare and Medicaid, veteran’s benefits, or other private benefits. Injured workers have also used Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Out of the total cost of treatment of occupational injuries, 63% is shouldered by the workers and their families and private insurance; whereas a large amount of the rest of the cost is borne by taxpayers (19% goes into Medicare and Medicaid alone).
Effects of Socio-Economic Classification
The report highlights the fact that “the broken workers’ compensation system creates havoc in the socio-economic strata, forcing injured workers and their families down the ladder. These injuries and illnesses contribute to the pressing issue of income inequality: working families are forced out of the middle class and into poverty and keep the families of lower-wage workers from entering the middle class. Work injuries hamper the ability of many working families to realize the American Dream.”
Consequences of Misclassified Employees
Workers who are misclassified as independent contractual workers or as temporary employees miss the opportunity for financial compensation. Temporary employees and independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation. The benefits of temporary workers are managed by the agency that hires them. A McClatchy Newspaper reports that 15.5 percent of construction workers in Florida are misclassified as independent contractors.
Legal Help for Injured Workers – St. Louis Injured at Work Lawyers
Companies that rely heavily on independent contractors and temporary workers must not neglect providing a safe working environment. If you have been injured at the workplace and need help with the claims process, contact a St. Louis injured at work lawyer. Call The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300.