Could A Few Extra Pounds Cost A Few Extra Dollars?

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin believe they found a direct link between employee obesity and workers’ compensation costs.

The researchers examined 2,300 Louisiana cases to form their conclusion. They found that 75 percent of workers’ compensation claimants were either overweight (a Body Mass Index of at least 25) or obese (a BMI of 30 or more); most of the claimed injuries were torn tendons and broken bones. The study also looked at costs for major injuries, and found that the major-injury costs for non-overweight/obese workers ($180,000 per incident) were significantly lower than similar costs for overweight ($270,000) and obese ($470,000) workers.

The study found no correlation between weight and less severe injuries, or weight and recovery time.

Workers’ Compensation Process

A hundred years ago, in the so-called Grand Bargain, workers essentially gave up money (noneconomic damages) for time (no-fault insurance). Many states have laws and procedures designed to expedite the process, but these laws either do not exist in Louisiana or they are unevenly enforced for various reasons. Moreover, as medical costs have soared in recent decades, workers’ compensation insurance providers are fighting these claims more aggressively. Bear in mind that these insurance companies make money by collecting premiums from employers, not by paying six figure injury claims to victims.

As a result, the process is sometimes slow and cumbersome. After injured workers file their claims, there is a paper review. Lawyers are generally not allowed at these conferences, and therefore not surprisingly, claims are nearly always denied, at least in part.

The next stage is a hearing before an administrative law judge, and it is much like a non-jury trial. Before the hearing takes place, there is extensive discovery which may involve additional medical exams or file reviews. At this proceeding, the victim’s attorney can call witnesses, introduce evidence, cross-examine the insurance company’s witnesses, challenge adverse evidence, and make oral arguments. Unfavorable decisions can usually be appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals.

The vast majority of workers’ compensation cases – usually around 90 percent – settle out of court. These settlements often occur during mediation, which is basically a court-supervised negotiation session between the victim and the insurance company.

The workers’ compensation process is much easier to navigate with an aggressive Lake Charles personal injury attorney from Hoffoss Devall. Call us today for a free consultation.