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Protecting the Rights of Injured Workers

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Health risks prove filing for workers’ comp should be easier

No one ever said life was easy. There are certainly life moments that are tougher than others. One such life hurdle is getting injured in a workplace accident. With the stress of being injured at work, the last thing a person needs is more stress when trying to tie up loose ends.

Unfortunately, at least according to a study published in JAMA, the very process that an injured worker goes through to get financial support while they can’t work could be hurting them in the long-term. The study suggests that if the goal is to support injured workers until they are back on their feet, the process should be less threatening to claimants’ recovery.

Researchers asked more than 1,000 injured workers about their claims filing process. They asked whether filing for workers’ compensation was stressful, how stressful and what aspects of the process were stressful in particular. Then the researchers compared subjects’ stress levels to future recovery.

There seemed to be a correlation between the injured or sick workers who experienced higher levels of stress while filing for workers’ comp and a higher likelihood of long-term disability. If that link is real, it might not come as a surprise. Stress can make people sick. It can slow down healing. Stress, therefore, is not a friend to injured workers who hope to return to their jobs someday.

According to the subjects, among the stressful aspects of the claims process are understanding what they need to do when filing a claim, waiting time and more. To try to mitigate the level of stress throughout the legal process, an injured worker should work with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.

Source: JAMA Psychiatry, “Relationship Between Stressfulness of Claiming for Injury Compensation and Long-term Recovery,” Genevieve M. Grant, Meaghan L. O’Donnell, Matthew J. Spittal, Mark Creamer and David M. Studdert, Feb. 12, 2014

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