After an industrial injury, Injured Workers are faced with a number of life obstacles. They have their body which has broken down in some shape or form and is in need of repair and healing. A claims process has arisen in which the Injured Worker’s Employee/Employer relationship has changed. They have taken on a new relationship with a workers’ compensation insurances company which is both trying to assist with the process and trying to manage the risk by taking steps to minimize the claim. They have a new relationship with doctors who, while they have a relationship with them, they are also beholden to the employer and insurance company. Finally, their family relationship may have changed. They may no longer be providing the economic contribution to the family. They may no longer be able to help perform chores in the house. They may need to be dependent upon others in the house for assistance. They may be spending more time in the house with other family members leading to more conflict.
These stressors can lead to serious consequences. This article will discuss a recent study from South Korea of import, which discusses the risk of suicide in individuals who have suffered occupational injuries.
What Factors Did the Study Look at?
The study looked at a variety of factors: loss of income, return to work, the nature and extent of the disability, pensions, and family disruption. Lee H, Kim I, Kim M, et al
Increased risk of suicide after occupational injury in Korea Occupational and Environmental Medicine Published Online First: 13 August 2020. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2020-106687
What Was Were the Conclusions?
Industrially Injured Workers are statistically at a higher risk of injury when compared to others that are economically active.
The study found that “Injured workers showed higher mortality from suicide for both men (SMR=2.22, 95% CI 2.14 to 2.31) and women (SMR=2.11, 95% CI 1.81 to 2.45) compared with the economically active population in Korea.” Lee H, Kim I, Kim M, et al Increased risk of suicide after occupational injury in Korea Occupational and Environmental Medicine Published Online First: 13 August 2020. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2020-106687
One interesting note, which is of import, was the more severely disabled workers had a lower suicide risk. Supra. One reason hypothesized as the fact that they have received a disability pension. This notion of disability pension, when translated into a United States analysis and within the State of California could imply a Social Security Disability Award, a Government Employee Disability Pension, such as CALPERS, LACERA, KCERA, CALSTRS or LACERS, or a Disability Pension from a Private Disability Plan. Further, on Workers’ Compensation Case of a high percentage, such as 100 percent, the disability payments are substantial.
What Do We Need to Learn from the Study?
Most importantly, it is those who have injuries that cause the loss of employment, but which do not cause permanent disability, that we should be concerned with. In essence, individuals who lose their job and does not get substantial financial assistance are at a greater risk for suicide. Increased risk of suicide after occupational injury in Korea Occupational and Environmental Medicine Published Online First: 13 August 2020. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2020-106687
What Should We Do?
For those Injured Workers it is important that efforts be made to get them treated promptly and get them returned to the workforce. Both expediting treatment and the prompt provision of the Job Voucher would certainly assist in these cases. Further, there should be awareness to identify these individuals and get them psychological counseling through the workers’ compensation system or through an Employee Assistance Program. Also, those Injured Workers may benefit from retaining Legal Counsel to assist them. They may need assistance in the handling of their workers’ compensation claim as well as potential claims related to disability discrimination.
What If I Need Legal Advice?
If you would like a free consultation concerning any workers’ compensation case, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. They have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their worker’s compensation cases for 28 years. Contact us today for more information.