If you tune in to 91.9 on your FM radio dial, you can hear KVCR serving up National Public Radio programming to the Riverside area. The station is part of the acclaimed NPR network that recently teamed up with ProPublica on an investigative report on workers' compensation across the nation.
To sum up the report: employers and insurers are adding insult to injury.
The report begins with the account of an oil field worker who had his left arm torn off when an oil well blew. Seems like an easy case for a workers' comp commission to decide, doesn't it? The man lost an arm while on the job, after all.
Yet two and a half years have gone by since the jobsite accident and the former worker "is still fighting with North Dakota’s insurance agency for the prosthesis that his doctor says would give him a semblance of his former life."
Across the nation, so-called workers' comp "reform" has undermined a system needed to protect America's workers when they get hurt on the job. The "reforms" have been pushed by insurance companies and large employers who argue that workers' comp costs are out of control. And yet, according to NPR and ProPublica, employers are paying historically low insurance rates and the insurance companies' profits are booming: 18 percent return in 2013.
Here in California, the report notes, insurers can reopen old cases in their search for ways to deny health care to injured workers -- and they can deny that care based on the opinions of physicians who never even see the worker.
Anyone who reads the report will not doubt the lengths to which insurers will go to try to deny care; earned, deserved, paid-for care. That's when workers' compensation attorneys get involved in fighting for full and fair compensation for someone injured on the job.