When it comes to workman's comp management in America, injury compensation could be compared to a geographic lottery. Why so disparate? No federal minimums are set by Congress, and each state is allowed to determine its own benefits, leading to vast differences in compensation for even identical injuries across stateliness.
Case(s) and point:
A joint NPR/ProPublica investigation identified two individuals living within 75 miles of one another who each lost a portion of their left arms in machinery accidents. Of the two, one, an Alabama man, received $45,000 in workers' compensation for the loss of his arm. The other, a Georgia man, was awarded benefits that could surpass $740,000 over his lifetime.
A grim illustration
Nearly every state has an individual “schedule of benefits,” dividing the body up like a meat chart. Wages are awarded up to the state maximum for the specified number of weeks for each appendage. Unfortunately, the final amounts vary widely:
- Alabama: $48,840
- Ohio: $193,950
- Illinois: $439,858
- California: $6,090
- Oregon: $90,401.88
A nonsensical patchwork of laws
In one case, a man with a lost arm and a torn rotator cuff (same incident) received a lifetime settlement of $33,500 for his missing limb – and $47,500 for his torn rotator cuff. Justifiably inconsistent examples such as these frustrate and enrage employers and employees alike. Being allotted less due to misguided legislation or worse - simple geography - is dehumanizing. Instead of years of study combining medical wisdom and economic analysis, political expediency reigns supreme, often based on decades old negotiations.
How are these issues effecting the workman's comp management landscape? Find out in Part Two from Minnesota Comp Advisor.