Overexertion: 27% of the Cost of Workers Compensation

Washington SB5566, passed in the State Senate on March 5,  has implications far beyond the actual benefits paid to injured individuals.  In a previous column in this forum I discussed how this bill could scam unsuspecting workers with inadequate legal representation out of receiving benefits they deserve.  This report reveals the enormous costs being run up because workers are under pressure to a degree that leads to the filing of injury claims.

The data on the costs to workers compensation based on accident type is located in this spreadsheet:


Sorting this data by accident type and summing for the overexertion accident type, the result is $178,166,040.  The sum for all accident types is $658,060,979.  Overexertion represented 27% of the cost of workers compensation.

Employees are either forced to do more than they can handle or motivated by fear of losing their jobs or competition for performance review to overexert themselves to the point of injury. Weakening workers compensation will only allow this type of abuse to continue.

Reducing workers compensation benefits will allow the problem of workplace injuries to persist.  It will provide a disincentive to design work assignments in a manner that is protective of health and safety.

It seems that the shorter work week and longer vacation allotments common in Europe provide the dual benefits of spreading employment throughout the population and lowering unemployment while
avoiding the workers compensation costs resulting from overexertion.

In order to lower the costs in the state workers compensation system it is necessary to address the problem of the pressure placed on employees to overwork to the point where they ruin their health and have to file injury claims.



3 Replies to “Overexertion: 27% of the Cost of Workers Compensation

  1. This petition to stop “retro” is in opposition to SB5566 and HB1487. It’s difficult for me to know what to believe about this. It’s very unlikely that the average citizen would have an educated opinion. Politics works only if the electorate are educated and involved.

  2. What are your questions? Last night the president of the WSLC spoke at the 48th LD Democrats meeting. From his explanation I was able to understand the narrative of what happens in a workers compensation claim. John Doe is living the lifestyle of a person with a full time job and suddenly he gets an injury on the job. If it is serious he has lost his ability to earn a livelihood. This often results in the loss of a home, as well as divorce. The individual is suffering from a great deal of stress. After he files a claim the employer can delay on paying the claim by continually requiring more medical exams and continually disputing his case. The individual may have an incompetent or careless attorney. The employer probably has a more competent attorney. The injured worker is becoming more and more anxious about needing to pay the mortgage, etc. The company continues to offer a cash settlement in return for absolving the company of any future damages or any further payments. The injured worker feels very pressured to sign. He is given only 90 days to make this decision, and during much of that time he may be in treatment and recovery. My concern about this scenario is that the injured party’s creditors could go after the settlement and leave the worker with nothing whereas it would be unlikely that a creditor could take any a disability pension. The creditors could take the settlement money, which is an asset, and the worker would be left with nothing. Add to this stody the likelihood that workers in high-injury categories may be less likely to speak English and therefore less likely to negotiate the legal process. Such a person could be pressured into signing the settlement papers on the basis of false information. That is why I view 5566 as a scam. There are, supposedly, protections in place, but you have to weigh the amount of suffering the person is experiencing versus the pressure being put on him to sign away his right to a pension. I also believe that the unions, over the years, made wise choices over the benefits they have bargained for and often they make the best financial decisions for the benefit of the worker over the long term.

  3. Is there any way to legitimize these claims? I am curious of the 178 million what percentage is fraudulent?

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