Anxiety over firing leads to poor workers' compensation outcomes | The Dickerson & Smith Law Group
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Anxiety over firing leads to poor workers' compensation outcomes

Recovering from a work-related injury can be stressful enough for Virginians. Compounding the situation is the fear of being fired while on medical leave. This added stress often leads to poor outcomes if and when these employees return to work, according to a study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

Researchers interviewed 3,200 workers who suffered an on-the-job injury in 2010. The workers were from eight states and had received workers' compensation benefits for their injuries. Overall, the results showed that mistrust in the workplace and anxiety about being fired after the accident greatly affected one's recovery.

Interviews were held between February and June 2013. Of those who were concerned about being fired, 20 percent were not working at the time the interview took place. This is compared to only 10 percent of those who were not working and who had no concerns about being fired. In addition, anxiety about being fired increased one's disability by an average of one month.

Stress was not the only contributor to poor worker outcomes. Chronic conditions were also major contributors. Those with hypertension and diabetes had an unemployment rate that was three to four percentage points higher due to injury. The rate was eight percentage points higher for those with heart problems.

Overall, the main point is that injured workers have a lot on their plate. Unfortunately, they sometimes face a double whammy -- injury and unemployment -- from uncaring employers. By receiving better treatment and communication from both doctors and employers, work accident victims can recover, go back to work and return to their previous level of productivity in a shorter period of time.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Firing Fear Among New Predictors of Workers’ Comp Outcomes: WCRI" No author given, Jun. 19, 2014

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