Workers' compensation was founded on the idea that employers owe a duty to injured employees and their families. But now, a lawyer in Texas is helping corporations opt out of the workers' compensation system and write their own rules on how to care for their employees. As can be expected, corporations are not making their employees a priority when they write their own rules.
Many of the largest and most powerful companies in the U.S., including retailers, trucking companies, healthcare providers, and food companies have already opted out of workers' compensation, with South Carolina and Tennessee also considering similar legislation. Bill Minick, the lawyer behind the opt-out law,plans to get laws passed in as many as a dozen more states within the next ten years.
Minick contends that allowing corporations to opt out of the workers' compensation is not only good for employers, but it benefits employees as well. He maintains that he is helping to bring about the "re-engineering of one of the pillars of social justice" and enabling much-needed change. Injured workers who have had their coverage significantly reduced beg to differ.
BUILT-IN BIAS: SHOULD CORPORATIONS BE ALLOWED TO WRITE THEIR OWN RULES?
In an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, companies who wrote their own plans almost universally provided lower benefits, more restrictions, and no independent oversight. Companies are allowed to deny benefits for common injuries or illnesses. At Sears, for example, coverage can be entirely denied if an employee does not report an injury by the end of their shift. And Costco, for example, will not cover external hearing aids costing more than $600, when the least expensive one they sell is priced at $900.
Workers' compensation plans have traditionally guaranteed lifetime care for a work-related injury, but many opt-out plans will now only provide care for a maximum of two years. For catastrophic injury victims in need of long-term care, this could potentially prove disastrous. Workers injured on the job, often through no fault of their own, have had the costs of their injury shifted onto them.
Workers' compensation insurance is essential for businesses to take care of their employees in the event that they are injured in an accident while on the job. States with these new laws in place have passed the burden onto employees, who must now resort to personal injury lawsuits for the compensation they both need and deserve. This is an easy way for corporations to get out of helping the very people who have dedicated their careers to helping them succeed in business.
Time will tell whether the opt-out plan will spread to other states and how much of a burden it will cause for American workers.
SAN JOSE WORKERS' COMPENSATION CLAIMS LAWYERS
If you have suffered a work-related injury and are in need of assistance with a workers' compensation claim, speak with a San Jose catastrophic injury attorney at Shea & Shea - A Professional Law Corporation. Our seasoned team of personal injury lawyers stands ready to advocate on your behalf to help improve your chances of receiving far and just compensation. Unlike many corporations, our attorneys have your best interests in mind and are prepared to do everything in our power to help you obtain justice.
Call (408) 883-3863 to speak with a San Jose workplace accident attorney today!