NPR and ProPublica Confirm Reveals Significant Injustices to Victims of Workplace Injuries

According to a recent NPR and ProPublica investigation, state reforms to workers’ compensation laws have systematically demolished the system.  In many states, including West Virginia, the victims of workplace injuries are now forced to return to work, regardless of whether they are actually healed or able.  Furthermore, these cases are now often “reviewed” by doctors who never actually see the injured worker of have particular expertise in the worker’s injuries.  The result is that, like the gentleman injured on the oil and gas drilling rig, injured workers do not receive the treatment they deserve.  These reforms, like the so-called tort reforms recently adopted by the West Virginia Legislature, are often brought in the name of economic growth and are aggressively lobbied for by state and U.S. chamber of commerce type groups, who are in turn funded by big business.  The proponents of big business at all costs however, fail to appreciate the reason for worker’s compensation or our civil tort system or the consequences when those systems are eviscerated.  The systems exist to allocate the costs of an injury to those responsible.  In civil torts, this means that as between the wrongdoer who caused the injury and the innocent victim, the wrongdoer should pay the costs of the injury.  In workers’ comp, this means that as between the company who benefits from the worker’s labor and the worker, the company should pay for the injury.  The workers’ comp and civil tort reforms passed by our legislature turn this on its head and force the injured party to pay and the wrongdoer or employer to shirk responsibility.  As a practical matter, the effect of these reforms is to force the injured party on to government programs such as Social Security Disability, food stamps, Medicaid and welfare, where the taxpayers foot the bill and the worker lives a lower standard and quality of life.  Everyone loses accept the big company.  If you care for injured workers, we encourage you to write your legislators in Ohio, West Virginia or Pennsylvania and hold them accountable when they choose to enrich big business at our expense.