When the economy lags, like now, so do the amount of reported job-related accidents and workers’ compensation claims filed. I speak from the experience of handling claimants’ workers’ compensation cases for the past 23 years.
Employees fear being fired for having an accident on the job. In my experience, the fear is well founded. Accordingly, when jobs are scarce, employees are more hesitant to report accidents and injuries as compared to when jobs are plentiful.
In the mid- to late-1990s, the Clinton years, when the economy was booming and the next job was right around the corner, employees had little fear of reporting an injury, like a tweaked back – which could be a herniated disc – from heavy lifting or a twisted knee – which could be a meniscus tear or worse – from falling from a ladder. If necessary, employees hired lawyers to assert their rights under the law.
This is not so anymore. Not even close. I have noticed a decided decline in workers’ compensation cases over the past 4-5 years, especially the last 2-3 years. (This is not surprising given that, since December, 2007, the U.S. economy has shed more than 8 million jobs.)
As a result, many employees are failing to report and pursue benefits for serious injuries. The long term consequences of this can be profound. Serious injuries require medical attention and rest. Working through a serious injury is not always the answer. Injuries that fail to heal properly will only worsen over time, resulting in the need for greater medical care and the inability to maintain gainful employment in the future.
This is one of many negative consequences of a poor economy. Let’s hope that things improve soon.
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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.