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Workers face financial struggles after on-the-job injuries

Workers across Ohio generally understand that if they are hurt on the job, they are typically eligible to receive workers' compensation. This insurance is intended to ease the financial burden of lost wages and medical care for injured workers and their families. In theory, the benefits available through workers' compensation should help people get back on their feet.

In reality, however, injured workers are left to cover the costs of their injuries due to factors including coverage problems and the fact that many people do not receive the full amount of benefits they should. A report published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that these and other problems with workers' compensation programs are taking a dramatic toll on U.S. workers.

The report states that in addition to the financial burden of having to cover their own medical expenses, workers who are injured on the job also make less after an accident. In fact, it is estimated that a person will earn 15 percent less in the 10 years after an accident than he or she made in the 10 years before the accident occurred.

Many of the problems with workers' compensation and workplace injuries stem from employers. The report by OSHA notes that there are many employers that do not report serious accidents, misclassify employees and fail to enforce or improve workplace safety standards.

What this means is that workers can be injured as a result of a preventable hazard on the job and then end up paying for a significant amount of the care they need. It is estimated that even when a worker does collect workers' compensation, it only pays for about 20 percent of the overall costs associated with a work injury while the worker can end up paying about half of the overall cost.

With all this in mind, workers should understand that they can face some very serious financial obstacles after a workplace accident and it can be difficult to get over these obstacles without help. Hiring an attorney can be a good way to explore all the potential sources of compensation that may be available and pursue maximum benefits. A lawyer can also help workers navigate the workers' compensation system more easily and avoid costly mistakes.

Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration, "Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job," accessed on March 16, 2015

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