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Workers’ compensation leaves low-wage workers behind

Workers' compensation was conceived as an umbrella solution to solve the rash of injuries that left workers unable to work and financially vulnerable. Workers' compensation also protected businesses from being over-litigated by injured workers whose only recourse was the courts. Essentially, in exchange for the guarantee of protection offered by the insurance plan, workers surrender the right to sue their employer for on the job injuries.

The system works great when it works. Unfortunately, a study conducted by the University of Illinois-Chicago, Cornell University, UCLA, and Rutgers University found that many low-wage workers do not receive the protection to which they are entitled.

They surveyed 4,400 workers in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. The researchers found that 12 percent experienced a serious injury, but only 8 percent filed any claims. Furthermore, of the injured workers, 43 percent were ordered to return to work by their boss ? regardless of their injury. Moreover, 50 percent of employees noted some retaliatory behavior from their employer after they filed their claim.

Additionally, only 6 percent of filers received any compensation for their injuries. Finally, 33 percent had to pay their medical bills out of pocket or use their personal insurance.

These figures illustrate a stark reality that workers' compensation ignores many low-wage workers. These employers are violating their worker's rights by restricting their ability to file for workers' compensation and by retaliating against them. Sadly, many of these workers lack the means to enforce their rights.

As illustrated above, even you possess a right ? does not mean that you will get to exercise it. Sometimes it takes a determined person to ensure that his or her rights are respected. If you suffered a workplace injury, you might want to contact a lawyer. As you can see, even if you do everything right, your employer can still contest your filing. An attorney can represent you and assist you during the process to ensure that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.

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