Change the Law or Let Injured Workers Sue Their Employers
Today, almost all injured workers are prohibited from filing a negligence lawsuit against their employer for causing their injuries if the injured worker is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation law does not permit the injured to opt out. Rather, it requires injured workers to give up their rights in exchange for workers’ compensation benefits. Since the beginning of this “fair” exchange, the benefits an inured worker receives for giving up their rights have dramatically decreased. The following is a list of just some of the benefits that have been decreased since workers’ compensation laws have been forced on injured workers:
- The right to sue other persons or companies on the job site who may have caused an worker to get injured has been taken away.
- The 10 year wage replacement following MMI established in the 1979 was reduced in 1990 and the eliminated in 1996 except in limited cases and then totally eliminated in the 2003 changes.
- The employer/carrier’s obligation to pay for any retraining programs was eliminated.
- Temporary benefits were reduced in 1994 to a total of 2 years excluding retraining benefits and Impairment Benefits which were later reduced in 2003 to include int he 2-year limitation al; categories of benefits.
Psychiatric impairments limited to 1% no matter how debilitating and no more than 6 months temporary benefits permitted for psychiatric injuries.
With all the benefits being reduced while the injured worker still cannot bring a negligence claim against their employer, the system is simply unfair to the injured worker. If the legislature is going to take away rights from the injured workers, they must be forced to provide additional benefits for having to give up those rights. Otherwise, the law should permit an injured worker to opt out of workers’ compensation system and take his or her chances with a negligence lawsuit against the employer.