Every year many state governments “reform” their workers’ compensation laws to make their state “more inviting” to business in a fallacious attempt to appear less expensive than their neighboring state. The result is a continuing spiral downward of worker rights and protections often placing the burden of workplace safety and injuries not on the responsble parties, but on the workers and local, state, and national government. No longer is there an incentive to provide a safe workplace and workers are seen merely as an easily replaceable commodity. Then, there is the issue of quality medical treatment. All too often the best and brightest members of the medical community refuse to accept workers’ compensation patients due to the red tape, low reimbursement rates, and evidence based medicine, which is a euphemisim for bureaucratically dictate methods of treatment. Again, the result is workers that are not rehabilitated and left to be cared for by other agencies.
The following article by Robert A. McLaughlin (www.personalinjurylawsandiego.com) is an excellent illustration of this dangerous downward spiral or race to the bottom.
Mom was right, should we all jump off the Brooklyn Bridge just because Texas did?
Below is a news link about the explosion in Texas that devastated the town of West, Texas.
What many of you may not know is that the Chamber of Commerce and employer groups got Texas to agree to be an “opt-out” state. Meaning employers can opt out of the state workers compensation system should they choose to do so. In such a situation the injured worker has the right to sue the employer in civil court and go after civil damages. However, after an accident (as I have been informed by practitioners in Texas) most employers will have an injured worker sign a waiver of the right to civil damages in exchange for the employer picking up the medical bills as the injured worker has no way to pay for the medical bills while waiting to go to court.
Well, the Texas plant only had a $1 million dollar insurance policy and it looks like the employer/plant will file bankruptcy to avoid all damages and responsibility over the $1 million policy.
These are the things we have to remind our state legislatures when they insist that workers compensation needs to be deregulated or that California and other states adopt a similar “opt-out” program or less “red-tape” regulations like Texas. I doubt the injured workers of the plant will get full compensation and I will bet you this is one time the employer/plant will not have the injured worker sign a waiver and instead tell them to go after the $1 million policy with all other liability creditors, hence reducing the employer’s exposure for their actions.
Talk about giving the employer an incentive to not follow or comply with safety rules!! Loosen the rules on safety, tell them they do not have to comply with all the alleged “red tape” of other states and then legally limit their liability in the case of a catastrophic event. At least that is what the Governor of Texas was stating in his ads in California and other states on how businesses should leave and come to Texas. Some of you may have seen these ads. I did in California. What I found interesting is the ad for Texas run in Illinois entitled “An Open Letter from Texas Governor Rick Perry.” The link is http://www.scribd.com/doc/136570850/Texas-Illinois-Print-Ad What is most interesting is the Governor’s choice of wording in the first paragraph when referring to the alleged difficulties businesses in Illinois face:
“With rising taxes and government interference on the upswing, your situation is not unlike a burning building on the verge of collapse.”
Unfortunately and tragically, the open letter got one thing right. If there is any state that can now immediately recognize a burning building on the verge of collapse, it is Texas.
In the same open letter Governor Perry touts how Texas has a worker’s comp system that only requires 39 cents out of every $100 of covered wages compares to Illinois’ $1.10.
So who ends up paying for this tragedy? The workers injured or killed and their families, the first responders injured or killed and their families, the town of West, Texas and the tax payers of Texas and all other states. The costs for the employers failure to comply with safety rules are going to be borne by the ones least able to afford it and least culpable for the actions of the plant’s owners – while the very same owners will have the plant file for bankruptcy and walk away with their lives unharmed and unchanged.
Meanwhile, how many children will be going to bed tonight without their father or mother because of the explosion?
How many children are going to bed tonight not in their own room or bed because the explosion rendered the home uninhabitable or destroyed?
Nice system you got there Texas. I think I will pass on such a system.
It is time we stop the run to the bottom on safety and the rights of those injured. When I got in trouble as a kid, and like most kids, I would use my best friend as an excuse for my actions by stating, “well Johnny did it too.” My mom being older, wiser and a typical loving parent (plus a tough streetwise New Yorker) would respond by saying, “Well if Johnny jumped off the Brooklyn bridge, would you?”
It is time that State legislators stop jumping off the bridge just because other states will reduce safety regulations and limit the liability of wrongdoers at any cost to attract businesses or take business away from their state. Enough is enough – do not jump off the Brooklyn bridge just because Texas did.
Mom was right all along.
If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI matter, personal injury matter (car wreck, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), EEOICPA claim, long or short-term disability, VA disability, Railroad Retirement Board disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611, through Facebook, or through our website. Our office handles claims throughout East Tennessee, including Knoxville, Chattanooga, Kingsport, Bristol, Johnson City, Morristown, Maryville, Rogersville, Dandridge, Tazewell, New Tazewell, Jefferson City, Strawberry Plains, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Loudon, Kingston, Halls, Maynardville, Crossville, Cookeville, Jamestown, Sweetwater, Lenoir City, Athens, Oak Ridge, Clinton, LaFollette, Lake City, Jacksboro, Bean Station, Cosby, Newport, White Pine, Mosheim, Wartburg, Sunbright, Pigeon Forge, and Deer Lodge.