Earlier this month, the Labor Department released a report of its findings after closely examining workers' compensation systems from all over the country. Their recommendation? That Congressional lawmakers begin to look into the possibility of federal intervention.
As NPR and ProPublica report, the Labor Department found an alarming "race to the bottom" when it came to state laws that minimize worker benefits and leave a troubling number of claimants without the compensation they deserve following a serious work accident. "Working people are at great risk of falling into poverty," the report says, adding that the new laws have caused "the failure of state workers' compensation systems to provide [injured workers] with adequate benefits."
NPR and ProPublica deserve some credit for the new findings: 10 lawmakers requested the study from the Labor department following an exhaustive investigation by the news agencies into our workers' compensation systems. What they found were legislative trends that benefited insurance providers and businesses by disqualifying and canceling workers' compensation claims from deserving claimants.
The Labor Department's report also points to some specific ideas that could improve America's workers' compensation crisis. They have recommended that lawmakers explore the possibility of federal workers' comp standards. Theoretically, if a state where ever to dip below these standards, it would trigger federal oversight to bolster the program and provide relief to claimants.
The agency has also pointed to an old idea: a reestablishing of a Nixon administration commission that would create federal minimum benefits to be enforced in every state. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez believes that it's finally time that the federal government involve itself in these programs to help ensure America's injured workers are not at the mercy of business-oriented state laws. "In this critical area of the social safety net, the federal government has basically abdicated any responsibility," he told the press, adding that our current systems are "really putting workers who are hurt on the job on a pathway to poverty."
If you have been hurt at work and need to apply for or have been denied workers' comp benefits, then it may be time to seek legal counsel. At Berry, Smith & Bartell, a Professional Law Corporation, our distinguished legal team has more than 130 years of combined experienced in this practice area. Our proven Bakersfield workers' compensation lawyers are ready to assess your claim and ensure that every avenue towards securing you benefits is exhaustively pursued.
Our firm is ready to stand in your corner throughout this complex process. Call our offices today.