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Workplace injuries may be more severe for older workers

There has been a substantial increase in the percentage of workers in the national workforce, including in California, who are 65 years or older. One in every five American workers is over 65, according to a national study. The workplace injuries that occur for these older workers are likely to be more severe and even deadly than for younger workers.

Some of the reasons for older workers staying on the job longer are reasonably expected due to new social conditions in society. Longer life expectancy is the most obvious. Financial necessity is also more intense in an economy that is marked by high and growing prices. Lack of qualified workers also influences older workers to stay on the job. However, according to some observers, the desire to remain productive may be the biggest motivator of all.

Due to the extra severity of injuries to this growing category of workers, workers' compensation claims and payouts are expected to continue rising. The leading cause of work injuries and fatalities to older workers comes from roadway crashes, according to a study of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' census reports. Pre-existing health conditions and the longer recovery time of older workers are expected also to cause higher workers' compensation payout amounts.

Generally, workers' compensation costs to companies are therefore higher as the worker's age increases. Hopefully, employers in California and elsewhere will realize that the economic value of experienced, skilled older workers far outweighs the expenses of workplace injuries. Where an older worker believes that he or she is not being treated fairly with respect to a workers' compensation issue, the strongest way to respond is probably to first seek a consultation  with an experienced workers' compensation attorney.  In that way, the worker will be fully informed and will be able to use the full force of the law on his or her behalf.

Source: claimsjournal.com, "Older Workers Effect on Workers' Comp Injuries and Costs", Denise Johnson, Jan. 25, 2016

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