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Work is Needed to Repair the Current Worker's Compensation Law

23rd April 2010
By Dorothy Hernandez in Employment Law
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The maximum payout should be provided in compensation to a worker who suffers an amputation due to an on the job injury. This translates to a weekly rate of approximately $400 for the maximum time allotted of 312 weeks in the State of New York. For an injured employee who is unable to be cured, such as a permanent lower back injury that is diagnosed by a doctor, these weekly payments can continue for the rest of the employee's life.

The reason for this type of discrepancy traces back to a 1914 law created to manage worker's compensation. While it was a landmark law at the time and set up a rule for many work-related disabilities and injuries, it did not cover everything.

Hearing loss and dismemberment are two of the injuries which have a specified duration under the law. Disabilities considered partial or permanent which are not addressed by this schedule are entitled to compensation until they are cured. Back pain and mental stress are included in these disabilities.

All of this has resulted in a system that is now paying 70 percent of it's benefit dollars to only 13 percent of its total cases! The workers comp premium paid in New York is 72 percent above the average around the United States. The direct effect of this is the subsequent drain on tax dollars that effect the local schools, businesses, and governments.

For the remaining 87 percent of workers compensation cases, it means a per week payment that is well below the regional average. This faulty system is now being evaluated by local governments within the state of New York. The maximum benefit has been increased to $685 per week in many states.

One of the worst workers' compensation systems in the United States used to be in Texas. However, changes have been made to the system, it has the nation’s third-highest workers’ compensation costs and the highest rate of injured employees.

Texas was also dealing with another problem was the increasing rate of doctors dropping out of the system. Texas solved their worker's compensation problem by building new physician networks and making a small increase in the benefits available to injured workers. Today Texas has a new worker's compensation law that is considered one of the best in this country.

New York is considering a few strategies for improving their system, including a limit on any permanent, yet partial disability to a maximum benefit of ten years. Law makers are also considering raising the maximum weekly benefit to $500. It is estimated that these two changes could lesson the premium cost by about fifteen percent.

One hope is that any additional concepts or ideas that are presented to the government body will improve and boost the benefits that much more. The solution to the problems with worker's compensation is finding a place to compromise. In addition, perpetual payments for back pain will be stopped.

As of now, the state of California has already enforced comparable reforms for its own workers' comp regulations. They were able to petition the state to put the issue up for vote on the ballot. Faced with a constituency that clearly favored changing the law, state legislators were forced to rewrite worker's compensation.

Reform in New York relies on legislative leaders actively pursuing the matter because there is not an option to use a petition. Local legislators must let their leaders know that struggling businesses and stressed local governments see this as a priority.
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