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Insult to Injury

America’s Vanishing Worker Protections

Driven by big business and insurers, states nationwide are dismantling workers’ compensation, slashing benefits to injured workers and making it more difficult for them to get care. Meanwhile employers are paying the lowest rates for workers’ comp insurance since the 1970s.

Featured

The Demolition of Workers’ Comp

Over the past decade, states have slashed workers’ compensation benefits, denying injured workers help when they need it most and shifting the costs of workplace accidents to taxpayers.

‘I Try to Forget’

Joel Ramirez was paralyzed from the waist down in 2009 when a 900-pound crate fell on him while on the job. A new #WorkersComp law in 2014 passed in California and the home health aide he relied on was taken away. This is his life now.

Other Entries

U.S. Labor Department: States Are Failing Injured Workers

A new Department of Labor report says cuts to state workers’ comp systems have left injured workers with inadequate benefits and raises the specter of federal oversight. The findings echo those of a ProPublica and NPR investigation last year.

Oklahoma’s Top Court: Companies Can’t Set Own Rules for Injured Workers

A national campaign led by Walmart, Lowe’s and other big companies to let employers opt out of workers’ comp insurance was dealt a blow after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled such plans unconstitutional.

Corporate Campaign to Ditch Workers’ Comp Stalls

An Oklahoma commission ruled that a state law allowing companies to “opt out” of workers’ comp and write their own plans was unconstitutional while similar bills in other states lose steam.

‘All of This Because Somebody Got Hurt at Work’

Hummer limos, go-go dancers, a live alligator and glowing aliens in spandex at the national workers’ comp and disability expo. Journey into the little-known workers’ comp industrial complex.

Tyson Foods’ Secret Recipe for Carving Up Workers’ Comp

Over the past 25 years, the giant meatpacking company has taken a lead in pushing for changes in workers’ comp in state after state — often to the detriment of workers.

State Lawmakers to Investigate Workers’ Comp Opt Out

In response to a ProPublica and NPR investigation, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators said it will look into an effort by some of the biggest names in corporate America to opt out of workers’ comp.

U.S. Lawmakers Call for More Oversight of Workers’ Comp

In response to a ProPublica and NPR investigation, members of Congress are urging the labor secretary to come up with a plan to protect injured workers and taxpayers.

Inside Corporate America’s Campaign To Ditch Workers’ Comp

One Texas lawyer is helping companies opt out of workers’ compensation and write their own rules. What does it mean for injured workers?

Price Check: How Companies Value Body Parts

Benefits for the same body part can differ dramatically depending on which company you work for.

Injured Worker in ProPublica/NPR Story Testifies Before Illinois Legislature

In an eight-hour hearing, Democratic lawmakers challenge governor's proposals to change state's workers' compensation law.

California Bill Would Bar Insurers from Withdrawing Injured Workers' Care

A bill that passed a state Senate committee today would address a problem highlighted in a ProPublica and NPR investigation of problems with new workers' compensation laws.

Alabama Bill Would Increase Workers' Comp Benefits for Amputees

A proposal to nearly triple the maximum compensation for workers who lose a limb follows a ProPublica/NPR story that showed Alabama to have the lowest permanent partial disability benefits in the country.

California Workers’ Comp Law Gets Criticism, Praise at Senate Hearing

Some hearing witnesses say the 2012 reform law had “unintended consequences,” prompting insurers to deny medical care and doctors to leave the system.

California to Insurers: Don’t Use Workers’ Comp Law to Deny Approved Care

Concern over possible misuse of a 2012 workers’ comp law has led to warnings from state labor officials. A state senate committee will hold a hearing on the law Wednesday.

The Fallout of Workers’ Comp ‘Reforms’: 5 Tales of Harm

Injured workers share their stories, revealing the real-life impact of rollbacks that have been spreading across the country.

California Announces Audit of Insurance Company That Took Away Home Health Aide

A top labor official in California challenges our characterization of changes to the state’s workers’ comp system. His department will audit a case spotlighted by us.

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OSHA Report Echoes ProPublica and NPR’s Workers’ Comp Findings

Separate investigations into changes in the workers’ compensation system nationwide found that cutbacks were hurting injured workers and their families.

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