A “race to the bottom.” That is how a new report from the Labor Department describes the trend of recently passed workers’ compensation laws in states all over the country. The agency’s alarming findings, they conclude, justify an examination of how federal intervention would help standardize these systems and help injured workers receive the relief they deserve.
According to NPR, the new report found that, over the last 10 years, states have rapidly passed new workers’ comp laws that have “limited benefits, reduced the likelihood of successful application for workers’ compensation benefits, and/or discouraged injured workers from applying for benefits.”
Following an alarming series of investigative reports from NPR and ProPublica over the last two years, Democratic lawmakers asked the Labor Department to examine the issue themselves. Now, the agency is calling for additional research on “the establishment of standards that would trigger increased federal oversight if workers’ compensation programs fail to meet those standards.” The Labor Department’s report even recommends reconsidering a Nixon administration commission that pressured Congress to provide minimum benefits for injured workers when their own state workers’ comp system fails them.
There has been a long-standing resistance from both employers and insurance providers to the idea of federal intervention. Before the Labor Department’s report was even released, the Strategic Services on Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation released a statement expressing concern over the possibility of imposed federal standards. “Federal requirements imposed on a national basis would be inconsistent with the state workers’ compensation system, which has been in place for more than 100 years without federal oversight,” it reads.
The American Insurance Association also released a statement following the release of the report: “…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.”
Still, many lawmakers, advocates, injured workers, and their families remain adamant that widespread change is needed as states continue to trend towards workers’ comp policies that restrict benefits. As Labor Secretary Thomas Perez puts it, our current state systems are “really putting workers who are hurt on the job on a pathway to poverty.”
Have you been hurt at work? If so, we invite you to contact our experienced Dalton workers’ compensation lawyers atMcMahan Law Firm, LLC. Our team is well-versed in the obstacles that these claimants face in Georgia’s workers’ comp system and know what it takes to diligently pursue the benefits our clients deserve.
You do not have to face this complicated process by yourself. Contact our firm to speak with our advocates today.