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Workers' compensation system needs a new perspective

New York City workers face the same problems that exist nationwide with respect to collecting benefits after a work-related injury occurs. Workers' compensation is a system that has worked better for employers than employees in many respects. Experts in the field, however, believe that it is time for the focus to switch more to the needs of injured workers.

They expressed those ideas at a conference of the Workers' Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) last week. The message follows a 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Labor that denigrated the system as being insensitive to injured workers' claims. That is undoubtedly because the money put into the system is controlled by the big insurers and the big corporate employers.

The emphasis has not been primarily on the welfare of injured workers but more on how to spend as little as possible. The panelists and members of the WCRI concluded that there is a pressing need for a credible system for injured workers. Even the public sector has favored slanting new legislation toward the interests of the employers. The public policy makers must also refocus on the needs of the workers.

Workers' compensation attorneys know that the system far too often is tilted in favor of the employer. In addition, the slight to older workers is great. Such claims are contested by insurers because they argue that the older worker has so many other causes of injury than just a work-related event. Legislation has even been passed in some jurisdictions to make it harder for older workers to prove their claim. Employers have also been given inordinate control over the nature and extent of treatment to be meted out to the workers.

Wherever the future path of policy making leads, these broad debates are not immediately important to a worker in New York City who is presenting a claim for workers' compensation benefits. These persons need immediate medical care and lost wages for family survival. Whenever a comp question arises, the worker will benefit by obtaining the strong, aggressive services of an attorney who practices in the field.

Source:, "Why Workers' Compensation Is Needed Now More Than Ever: Report from WCRI Conference", Andrew G. Simpson, March 6, 2017

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