Published on:

Workers’ Compensation Programs and Addiction Issues

Over the past year of so, we have been hearing a lot on the news about the alarming rates of people addicted to opioid painkillers and heroin across the nation. Many cases begin with a person who suffers a work-related injury and then goes on narcotic medications to deal with the pain when over-the-counter medications like Motrin no longer work.

wrist painExperts believe that there are statistically significant numbers of people who are addicted to opioid painkillers who are also receiving workers’ compensation benefits.  This is not to say that everyone, or even most people are who receive workers’ compensation benefits are addicted to painkillers, but, if programs can be established to help those who are, then it could have a positive effect on everyone involved, as well as society as a whole.According to a recent news article from ABC News, workers’ compensation programs across the country are looking into what has been called the scourge on the American workers and trying to find a way to help as many of these people as possible.  The first thing to understand is that there is no national workers’ compensation system. Unlike with Social Security disability benefits that are established by Congress and run by the Social Security Administration (SSA), each state has their own system, though most are similar through the nation.  As our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act contains all relevant law and the program is run the by the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA).

Fortunately, for those who live in the Commonwealth and have been injured on the job, the workers’ compensation system here is much more favorable to injured workers and their families than the systems in many other states.  For example, in the case of a fatal workplace accident, the death benefits lost wages compensation is far more favorable than in some states that cap the benefits award a much lower rate.  The system here also provides additional compensation for certain types of accidents that involved loss of vision, partial or compete amputation, and even permanent scarring.   However, it should be noted that these benefits are not available in every workplace accident case, so you should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about your actual situation.

One individual who lives in Boston that was interviewed for this story said he was injured on the job and had become addicted to painkillers.  He said he was “eating them up like candy.”  He was referring to OxyContin, Percocet and even morphine.  These are all very powerful medications and have been very much overprescribed in the U.S. As patients take more and more of these drugs, they not only get addicted, they also develop a tolerance. This means that a patient will need bigger doses to get any pain relief.  Eventually, the injured worker will need even larger doses just to feel normal, as is the case with many types of addiction

There any many reasons to get this under control.  In addition to helping the workers, the workers’ compensation insurance companies are concerned about the costs, as they estimate that over $1.5 billion is spent on these prescriptions in one year alone.

If you are the victim of Massachusetts product liability, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Workers comp programs fight addiction among injured workers, April 4, 2017, By Bob Salsberg, ABC News

More Blog Entries:
OSHA Cites Gutter Firm After Worker Injured in Fall, Feb. 15, 2017, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog