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(c) 2016 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Surprising Trends in the Compensability of Occupational Diseases

Issue 9 of the Workers’ Compensation Resources Research Report authored by Professor John F. Burton Jr. contains the first of a series of issues that provide an Overview of Workers’ Compensation. Part I discusses the origins of workers’ compensation programs in the U.S. early in the 20th century, the objectives of a modern workers’ compensation program, and a description of the current programs. As shown in Figure 1, in recent years both benefits and costs as a percent of payroll have been near their low points for the period since 1980.

Part II examines the coverage of employees and employers by current workers’ compensation programs. About 90 percent of the employed U.S. workforce are in firms who are legally required to provide coverage. Actual coverage is less in many jurisdictions, however.

Part II also examines which injuries and diseases are compensable. The four traditional tests to establish legal causation for injuries have been tightened in many jurisdictions. The traditional tests to establish legal causation for diseases have also become even more restrictive in many states. As a result, a substantial portion of work-related injuries and diseases do not receive workers’ compensation benefits.