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Workers' Compensation Predictions For 2011: Part I

The Institute of WorkComp Professionals has just released a report which tracks recent trends and makes predictions for 2011. This week we'd like to focus on some of those observations which could affect all injured employees. Today's post will focus on what we can expect financially this year. Later in the week we'll talk about what changes employees can expect to see in the workplace.

The financial predictions for 2011 can be summed up by saying that costs continue to rise and everyone is affected. We will see increased medical costs, injured workers who need longer recovery time, increased insurance rates, and more workers' compensation lawsuits.

Medical costs continue to rise every year, but the trend is especially prevalent in workers' compensation claims. These costs are rising faster than the national average because many medical claims are not clearly defined or uniformly treated. Injured workers are also staying out of work longer, which means a larger financial drain on the system.

Therefore, employers and insurers are getting tough on claims. Injured workers in 2011 will likely see a much more clearly-defined diagnosis of their injury as well as an expected rate of recovery. The goal is to minimize costs and loss of work time. To meet these goals, employers and insurers want to avoid any wasted money because of unclear medical treatment.

Because of the bad economy and increased medical costs, workers' compensation insurance rates are likely to rise nationwide. Some states could see rates increase as much as 31 percent. This cost will surely get passed along to all covered employees.

Finally, the number of work-related lawsuits reached an all-time high last year, and the trend is expected to continue. Many employees are suing their companies over workers' compensation issues because their claims have been denied or delayed.

This is not to say that more workers are being denied claims. It is likely that everyone is feeling the pressure of a bad economy and therefore lack of communication between employers and employees leads to more lawsuits. Unless the amount of lawsuits begins to decline, the cost of litigation may result in even higher insurance rates.

Check back later this week to read about expected changes to the workplace in 2011.

Source: WorkersCompensation.com, "Eleven Workers' Compensation Issues Sure To Impact 2011," Preston Diamond, 05 January 2011

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