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Study looks at “mega” workers’ comp claims

| Sep 1, 2020 | Construction worker injuries

Arizona is a great place to live, play and work, but because of our weather, we have some of the most dangerous jobs in the nation, including in mining, agriculture, transportation and in the construction industry.

Of course, construction is a dangerous line of work no matter where you are in the U.S. According to a recent study completed for workers’ compensation insurance companies, construction-related workers’ comp claims comprised about 40 percent of all large claims from 2001 to 2017.

“Mega” workers’ comp claims

Workers’ comp claims that cost those insurers at least $3 million each are dubbed “mega” claims, and though researchers said the big claims are “relatively infrequent,” they are expected to become more common as medical advances improve mortality rates “particularly for those with serious injuries.”

About 4,500 workers’ comp claims from 2001-17 were labeled “mega” claims (in excess of $3 million). Of those, 57 percent were for between $3 million and $5 million; 33 percent were for between $5 million and $10 million; and 10 percent were for more than $10 million, according to the study.

It should be noted that “mega claims dropped sharply during the Great Recession” of 2008-09, an insurance industry report stated. During those years, construction activity plummeted around the nation – not unlike the economic slowdown seen during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Diving deeper into the study

The study of construction-related workers’ comp claims also contains the following facts:

  • Brain and head injury claims comprise 17 percent of all construction worker mega claims of between $3 million and $5 million, but 30 percent of claims that cost insurers in excess of $10 million
  • Injuries sustained in on-the-job motor vehicle crashes comprise 20 percent of mega claims
  • Construction industry claims reach the mega threshold of $3 million faster than claims in the office/clerical sector
  • The claims that rise to the mega threshold fastest are those from work-related motor vehicle wrecks, “struck by” incidents and head and brain injuries.

Common construction injuries

As regular readers of our legal blog know, the most common construction worker injuries include the following:

  • Falls from heights (roofs, ladders, scaffolding, etc.)
  • Falling objects such as building materials, debris and tools
  • Slips and falls
  • Strains from overexertion
  • Explosions and burns
  • Machinery accidents
  • Being struck by equipment or vehicles
  • Trench or building collapses
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Electrocution
  • Motor vehicle crashes

Most employees who are injured on the job are eligible for Arizona workers’ compensation benefits that include medical care and wage replacement.

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