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Is workers' compensation still a grand bargain?

Workers' compensation has been called a grand bargain, because it removed many workplace injury cases from the personal injury dockets and placed them within a regulated insurance system that would quickly provide the needed benefits for injured workers to recover from workplace accidents.

But as workers salaries and other rights have eroded during the last few decades, states have cut back on workers' compensation, often under the cover of attacking fraud and abuse but it has primarily resulted in reduced the benefits of many workers.


While complex regulations can be a problem, they are also necessary to prevent fraud. For employees, it is important to understand how the rules work and to follow the proper procedures for reporting injuries and making claims.

Workers may be confused by the system and the process, and sometimes it may help to have the assistance of an attorney with the claim. Mistakes made early in the process can interfere with a worker receiving the help they need to recover from their injuries and return to work.

An important element of a robust workers' compensation system for a state like Wisconsin is that it helps both injured workers and all other workers. It promotes behavior and practices by employers that recognize the importance of safety on the job.

Workers know when their lives are at risk and word gets around, so employers who operate a safe workplace will also have better ability to find quality employees and save training cost and time lost to injured workers.

By making safety a priority, employers can improve morale among workers, which leads to a more productive workforce and help lower their workers' compensation insurance premium by the reduction in injuries.


Source:, "Conversations on the Grand Bargain," September 2, 2015

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