Predictors of Multiple Workers’ Compensation Claims in Wisconsin

By Te-Chun Liu

October 1, 2000 Related Topics: Outcomes for Injured Workers

WCRI research found that workers who filed a compensable lost time claim were more than twice as likely as the workforce as a whole to file an additional claim in the following three or four years. At the firms employing these Wisconsin workers, the claim rate of the entire workforce averaged about 1.3 percent per quarter in 1989 and 1990. However, workers who returned to work after their initial injury filed subsequent claims at rates exceeding 3 percent per quarter for the next 14 quarters. (See Figure A.)

Out of the 107,056 Wisconsin workers who filed claims in 1989 or 1990, 34,258 workers filed at least one more claim by the end of December 1993. About 3,400 filed more than one additional claim. These numbers suggest that in a given year, more than 30 percent of the claims filed are for workers who have had prior compensable lost time claims.

* Quarter 0 is the quarter of return to work.

Workers who remained with their preinjury employer were more likely to file a second claim than those workers who changed jobs at or after return to work. In our study, almost half of the injured workers (45 percent) changed jobs after being injured. And of those job changers, more than 80 percent switched to a new industry. When compared to workers who remained with their same employer, those who found new jobs within the same industry were 21 percent less likely to file a second claim; those who changed industries were 34 percent less likely to have a second claim.

Some additional findings:

  • differences in time off work after an injury did not seem to explain why some filed second claims; an additional month off work reduced the probability of a second claim by only 1 or 2 percent.
  • workers who received temporary total disability benefits were more likely to file a second claim than those who received permanent partial disability or compromise-and-release agreements.

One of the first studies to identify factors that affect the rates of claims, our findings suggest that lost-time injuries have far-reaching effects. Once injured, a worker is at greater risk of a subsequent injury than the majority of his or her coworkers. Actions taken by employers, insurers and policymakers to ensure workplace safety, to provide job modification and training on how to avoid additional injuries, and to monitor injured workers after return to work might reduce the rate of subsequent claims.

Predictors of Multiple Workers’ Compensation Claims in Wisconsin. Glenn A. Gotz and Te-Chun Liu. October 2000. WC-00-7.

Copyright: WCRI

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