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Illinois stats show unequal workers' comp payouts for similar injuries

A recent study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health found that white construction workers received substantially higher settlements for workers' compensation claims than Hispanic or black workers with similar injuries.

The researchers looked at 1,039 workers' compensation cases to gather data from medical records and the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. 168 of the construction workers whose cases were reviewed were Hispanic, 68 were black, 724 were white and 79 were of other ethnicities. Overall, white workers' compensation claimants were awarded an average of about $6,000 more than similarly-situated minority claimants.

The study controlled for other factors that commonly affect settlement amounts. These include:

  • Average weekly wage
  • Type of injury
  • Injury severity
  • Weeks of temporary disability
  • Percent permanent partial disability
  • Whether the worker used an attorney

The study did not provide an explanation for this difference in compensation. One of its authors postulated that the disparity might reflect some systemic biases in the workers' compensation system.

Common injuries among all workers in the study included fractures, internal injuries and open wounds. Other injuries covered by the study were amputations, torso injuries and traumatic brain injuries.

This discrepancy could be cause for alarm among people of color in dangerous industries like construction who are entitled to the same compensation and benefits. The findings illustrate the importance of knowing your rights after a work-related injury and taking proper steps to protect them.

If you are seriously injured or disabled as a result of an accident at work, you are entitled to seek compensation including lost wages, medical bills and property loss. It is wise to speak with a qualified attorney experienced in occupational injuries to learn more about your options.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Study: White Construction Workers in Illinois Get Higher Work Comp Settlements," Oct. 15, 2012

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