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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

Workers' compensation cuts are driving people into poverty

Workers who are injured or made ill in the course of their jobs can find themselves in financial peril as a result. The consequences for workers who are already living near or below the poverty line can be particularly dire according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. However, even middle class workers are not immune to slipping into poverty as the result of receiving inadequate workers' compensation.

The picture doesn't look like it will be improving in the foreseeable future. Since 2004, 33 states have either made it more difficult for workers to get benefits or they have reduced the amount of benefits that employees can obtain. Meanwhile, just how much money you are entitled to get for a particular injury or illness depends largely on what state you live in.

According to OSHA, workers' compensation benefits cover so little that workers on average pay half of their injury or illness-related expenses. The head of OSHA says, "State legislatures are competing to lower benefits to ensure that injured workers get less and less." He added that the situation is "fundamentally unfair."

Some possible good news on the horizon is that President Obama is seeking to increase employer fines for violations of OSHA regulations. OSHA's director says that protecting the safety and health of workers is part of the administration's goals around reducing income inequality.

Georgia residents who believe that they are working in an unsafe or unhealthy environment and that this environment caused or contributed to their illness or injury would be wise to investigate their legal options. No one should suffer financial distress due to an injury or illness that their employer could have prevented.

Source: NBC News, "Workplace Injury, Illness Pushing Americans Deeper Into Poverty," Seth Freed Wessler, accessed June 15, 2015

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