On-the-job accidents can lead to extended time away from work, which can increase the financial burden of an injury by adding lost wages to the mix. Workers’ compensation benefits are supposed to help injured workers in Colorado, but a federal report indicates that many victims are not being adequately cared for. Workers who have suffered an injury while at work are actually at a significantly high risk of falling below the poverty line.
The report was compiled and released by the U.S. Department of Labor. The situation for injured workers is not pretty, and more than half of all states have made significant changes to their workers’ compensation laws since 2003. Those changes put more stringent limits on workers’ comp, making it increasingly difficult to access decreased benefits. It is now an exceptionally difficult ordeal for injured workers to even access necessary medical care.
These changes might have slashed states’ bottom lines — particularly for those that pushed costs off onto Social Security Disability Insurance — but many victims are now denied doctor-recommended prosthetic devices or surgeries. By creating an incredibly difficult system just to access increasingly smaller benefits, these laws place a larger, unfair burden on victims that ultimately pushes them towards poverty. For some, this even means losing one of their most important necessities — their home.
Many of these changing workers’ compensation laws can be traced back to a desire to bring in new businesses, such as factories or corporate headquarters. A lower cost might be an incentive for a company, but these cuts have real and detrimental impacts on injured workers. Many victims in Colorado are surprised to realize this when they are first denied benefits, but careful appeals are usually effective at achieving the benefits necessary for the best recovery possible.
Source: ProPublica, “U.S. Labor Department: States Are Failing Injured Workers“, Michael Grabell, Oct. 5, 2016