Fixed Settlements Defeat the Purpose of Workers' Compensation


I spent seven years as a workers comp claims case manager here in Washington state, working for a self-insured, non-profit organization. I am also a bleeding heart liberal, if that makes any difference. I can tell you with absolute certainty that our state's work comp system is incredibly labor intensive, expensive, full of corrupt lawyers already taking advantage of the claimants they represent (33% of their time loss pay!), and is in dire need of an overhaul. Knowing the ins and outs of the system, I actually see no problem in giving this choice to the worker, as long as their choices are fully explained to them. Businesses and taxpayers alike are already picking up the tab for the current system, which allows claims to stay open for many many years, sometimes well over a decade. Just my two cents.
Washington is also the ONLY state where the workers pay a portion of the cost for worker's comp. Right now I believe they pay 25% of the cost. If "other states are doing it" is the reason why not make business pay 100% of the premiums?
This proposed legislation is the worker's comp version of defined-contribution vs. defined benefit retirement plans - one more attack on equality and sanity.

The Seattle Times editors need to be waterboarded with PBR.
@1 If the system is cumbersome and ripe for abuse, then fix that. Don't destroy the purpose of the program by effectively forcing injured workers ("You can take your chances with this chaotic mess OR you can just take this pile of money now, but that's it") to accept a small, inadequate portion of their lost income for the permanent sacrifice of their health. Workers' comp is there to remediate an immoral aspect of the exploitation of labor (better known as "capitalism"), the human casualties of an inhuman production system. We have it for a reason, and that's the idea. If you hate the concept of Big Government cleaning up the mess of Big Capitalism, then just say so. But don't destroy the intent of workers' comp by "reforming" it. That's Goldy's point.

Of course, though, Republicans can't be honest in this state about their intentions and get anything done. They always have to conceal their Republican identity (hello, Rodney Tom, and "Prefers" whatever party description you want to write in) and translate their talking points into Democrat Speak ("Fund education first").

I hope this fails so bad.
In towns in rural Washington where industry has dwindled, Workman's Comp is probably keeping whole areas populated, even though the bruised thumb or twisted ankle seems enough to send a guy home and let him spend every whole week at the pub down in Randle, soaking up the Bud.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that the "purpose" of worker's comp is to be a lifelong support system. That's fine, but the "purpose" was to create an administrative system to compensate workers without forcing them to resort to the tort system, which was horribly costly and ended in no payment for most injured workers. That holds whether you pay a lump sum or an annuity (which workers can buy with their lump sum). Go ahead and make the policy argument, but don't rely on the authority of the program's "purpose."

And @2: the workers are paying either way.
My basic rule of thumb is that any time employers or capital offer to change the rules of the game, it's almost always a bad deal for workers.

Pensions vs. 401(k)s is the classic example, but there are plenty of others.
Yay for income tax call out!