Occupational back injuries lead to increased financial and domestic hardship for black and young workers

Health Care Costs and Financing

Image of person with pack injuries

Blacks and younger adults (age 18 to 35) who suffer occupational back injuries face increased legal problems ranging from foreclosure to domestic disturbances for years after receiving a worker's compensation (WC) settlement. What's more, these problems escalated with each passing year after claim settlement, according to a new study.

St. Louis University researchers compared pre- and post-settlement levels of financial and domestic court actions for WC claimants by analyzing data from a judicial database for Missouri and a telephone survey. Their analysis included four types of court cases in which claimants were involved in the 5 years before and after the WC settlement: general financial (nonpayment of contracts), domestic financial (nonpayment of child support), residence financial (nonpayment of rent, foreclosure), and domestic behavior (divorce).

For blacks, levels of general financial and domestic financial cases increased to 10 percent above pre-settlement levels by post-settlement year 5 versus 3 percent for whites. For workers younger than 35, there was a nearly 14 percent increase in general financial court actions relative to baseline, a rate that was three times higher than that of middle-aged claimants, and five times higher than that of an older group (age 55 and up). The researchers suggest that the racial disparity raises both ethical and medico-legal questions regarding the social justice implications of current WC processes. This study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13087 and HS14007).

See "Legal sequelae of occupational back injuries" by Raymond C. Tait, PhD, and John T. Chibnall, PhD, in Spine 36, pp. 1402-1409, 2011.

MWS

Page last reviewed January 2013
Internet Citation: Occupational back injuries lead to increased financial and domestic hardship for black and young workers: Health Care Costs and Financing. January 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/13jan/0113RA21.html