Most people understand the basic idea behind workers’ compensation. It’s the concept that if you get hurt on the job, your medical expenses will be covered and you’ll usually be paid for time away from work as you recover. While it’s not quite that simple (there are many nuances as different situations come up), the overall premise is that a worker should be compensated for injuries sustained on the job.
When dealing with an injury, most people underestimate the total cost. The phrase “pain and suffering” is often used in personal injury cases. This reflects that injuries aren’t just about the concrete facts and medical charts. There are extra costs in day-to-day life. For example, a severe injury might require someone to use a wheelchair. This, in turn, requires them to acquire a new vehicle.
Perception vs. real value
A new study by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business takes a deeper look at how we assign value to emotional suffering. The study compares our responses to different situations: when somebody is injured and loses a physical sum of money, as compared to when they are injured with no money involved. The basic question asked was this: “a person is mugged while carrying $50. How much is their emotional loss worth?” The question was asked again with different monetary amounts. The conclusion was that people assign less value to emotional loss when there is a concrete monetary sum involved. When the hypothetical mugging victim lost $0, respondents gave more value to emotional loss than they did if the victim was carrying $50.
It’s more than hours on a timecard
While the example in the study uses a mugging, there is emotional suffering with any injury. This research indicates that people undervalue the emotional loss when finances are considered. Since a workers’ compensation claim is a direct response to the loss of money (e.g. medical bills, missing work to recover, etc.), it’s likely that many injured parties are undervaluing their actual damages from the injury. There are costs in daily life in addition to medical bills and hours on the clock.
Almost all workers are eligible for workers’ compensation. However, the law is complex. As this study shows, it can be difficult to assign an accurate value to your injury without seeking help from a third party. It can be beneficial to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to get a better understanding of how to file a claim and to get fair compensation from your workers’ compensation benefits.