The ability for states to control their own laws regarding workers’ compensation, including minimum benefits, may soon become a thing of the past.
A recent report delivered to the Labor Department by ten lawmakers has urged that the federal government begin exploring the possibility of federal governmental regulation in workers’ compensation. This was supported with evidence demonstrating that recent legislation in 33 states have caused workers to have their claims denied, payments dramatically reduced, and essentially sent them spiraling into poverty due to their inability to work and inadequate compensation.
This would be landmark legislation as there has never been federal oversight of workers’ compensation programs. These pieces of the social safety net to this point have been left entirely to the opinions of the individual states.
The major worry of sudden federal intervention would be the sudden inability for states to individually control their own workers’ compensation costs based on their individual economy, rather than the nation as a whole. For states with smaller economies, this could make workers’ comp costs skyrocket and potentially become unaffordable for some businesses, driving them out of business completely.
“AIA appreciates the need to periodically review the state workers’ compensation system. However, changes and improvements to the workers’ comp system should be debated at the state level where whatever policy balance results can be more readily fine-tuned as circumstances require,” said Bruce Wood, president of the American Insurance Association, who strongly oppose the intervention.
On the other side of the coin though, workers in states with larger economies and higher costs of living often find their own state-instituted minimums completely inadequate when it comes to compensation, often resulting in things such as important treatments, surgeries, and even mobility aides to be denied, causing even further hardship on injured workers.
It won’t be an easy path for workers’ compensation to become a federally-regulated industry, but with the way things are going and the number of workers who find themselves in dire straits financially after a workplace accident, it could be a huge step forward.
If you need assistance filing for workers’ compensation benefits, the skilled Sacramento workers’ comp attorneys at Smolich & Smolich may be able to help you. Our team of distinguished legal advocates have assisted Northern Californians with their legal needs since 1969. We proudly operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning we can provide you with top-quality legal representation that you won’t pay a penny for unless we are successful in recovering on your behalf. Trust your case to a legal representative that has been Board Certified in Workers’ Compensation by the California State Bar.
Call Smolich & Smolich today at (888) 452-0703 and get a free consultation if you have been injured while on the job.