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Workers’ comp rates signal economic change

Most people probably would not be happy to hear that more workers’ compensation claims are being filed in their area. After all, workers’ compensation payouts are designed to help unfortunate employees who are injured on the job. A rise in the number of claims would indicate a rise in the number of unsafe workplaces. Even though the growing number of workers’ compensation claims throughout Maryland and the rest of the U.S. may seem like a bad sign, experts argue that the rising rates may be a harbinger of economic recovery.

Academic researchers say that workers’ compensation claims tend to positively correlate with an increase in employment rates and earnings. That is, more workers are employed, so a higher number of workers are exposed to on-the-job hazards. In addition, an increase in claims indicates that more workplaces are covered by the appropriate workers’ compensation insurance. In Maryland, the number of workers covered under this umbrella rose by 0.9 percent between 2010 and 2011. Covered wages rose by a full 3 percent in the state during that time period.

In all, Americans received some $60.2 billion in workers’ compensation claims during 2011. Spending in that general category rose by 3.5 percent. Medical spending associated with workers’ compensation also rose by about 4.5 percent, while wage replacement benefits saw a 2.6 percent rise.

So, what do these numbers mean for the average Maryland worker? First, coverage for workers’ compensation claims has increased in all 50 states. This means that workers are more likely to get the money they need to pay for medical care and related expenses for on-the-job injuries. In addition, more workers are actually receiving the benefits they need after they suffer a workplace injury. Finally, numbers from 33 states indicate that paid benefits for medical care surpassed the 50 percent mark, lowering the out-of-pocket expense for the workplace injury victim. Employees who are hurt on the job are thus more likely to receive the compensation they deserve as the economy once again begins to grow.

Source:, “Increased worker’s comp indicates economic recovery” Shauna Thompson, Aug. 25, 2013