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Most American workers take worker's compensation for granted-if you're injured on the job, the company pays for it, end of story. Right? Not anymore. One Dallas attorney has been leading the fight to allow companies to opt-out of worker's compensation programs as long as they agree to administer their own. However, what these companies come up with is a far cry from the protections workers have enjoyed for over a century.
In the past, carrying worker's compensation protected companies from costly lawsuits following an on-the-job injury. But employees still have issues with the system: often, employers reject all claims as a matter of practice, don't communicate about benefits, and chose the cheapest doctors available to administer care.
But under the company-administered plans, arbitrary deadlines and inflexible demands sometimes make it impossible for workers to benefit-even after being legitimately injured on the job. Some plans won't cover injuries that are reported after shift end. Other's can deny coverage if you are late to a doctor's appointment. Some employees have to agree to let the employer settle the claim at any time. In addition, many of these plans contain pages and pages of items that are not covered, including in some cases, asbestos exposure, bacterial infections, and even permanent disability. The limits for payouts for deaths and catastrophic injuries are much lower, too, and even vary greatly from employer to employer.
A group called the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers' Compensation tried to push a proposal through the West Virginia state legislature that would bring the opt-out to companies in West Virginia. Josh Sword, secretary-treasurer of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, characterized the proposal as the proverbial "fox in the henhouse," saying that "workers injured on the job already face a difficult process to get fair and adequate compensation. If we incorporated changes like this, it would make it even more difficult for injured workers to be appropriately compensated."
If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings.
Our attorneys have more than 40 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.