New report says that workplace injuries lead to income inequality

Many workers in California and throughout the country are injured at work every year. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, on a yearly basis, employers report approximately 4 million on-the-job-injuries and illnesses. Although workplace accidents often result in severe consequences for those who are involved, a new report also suggests that workplace injuries contribute to income equality in the U.S.

Injured workers often earn less

This report was issued by the U.S. Department of Labor and states that workers who suffer from a serious injury will likely earn 15 percent less over the following decade than if they had not been in a workplace accident. This report also argues that when injured workers receive workers' compensation benefits, this compensation only covers approximately 21 percent of their medical bills and lost wages.

Although the current workers' compensation system is inadequate for average workers, it is even more troublesome for immigrant workers and temporary workers. Immigrant workers are more likely to experience financial hardship after a workplace accident because they may:

  • Be unaware of what their rights are
  • Not be able to speak fluent English
  • Be afraid to report the their injuries because they don't want to lose their job

Temporary workers are more vulnerable to financial hardship after involvement in a workplace accident because they undergo less training and have usually been working in their position for a shorter period of time than other workers.

Some workers don't even apply for workers' compensation benefits to cover their medical treatment and other expenses after being involved in an accident. According to this report, after becoming injured at work, less than 40 percent of eligible employees apply for these benefits.

Benefits available to California workers

When employees in California are injured at work and choose to file a workers' compensation claim, the California Department of Industrial Relations states that they are eligible to receive several different types of benefits. These benefits are designed to partially replace the wages employees lose as they recover and provide them with needed medical treatment. They are also designed to help injured workers eventually return to their job. However, injured workers are not eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits for punitive damages or to make up for the pain and suffering they experience.

When workers in California become injured on the job, they may worry about whether or not their claim to workers' compensation benefits will be accepted. If you have a similar concern, speak with an attorney to determine what legal steps you can take to protect your rights to fair and proper compensation.