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Down U.S. economy hits injured workers

The ailing economy has had an adverse affect on injured workers, as many North Carolina workers may know. It is more difficult for injured workers to return to work than it used to be, due to high unemployment and other factors, according to a study performed by the Workers' Compensation Research Institute.

According to the report, the economy has reduced impacts of some workers' compensation practices even in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This is notable because these states generally have faster return-to-work rates than others.

The current economic climate is one in which injured workers feel the need to return to work as soon as possible, despite their disability, because they are worried about losing their jobs, according to WCRI.

The report also says that when injured workers do return to work, it is more challenging to find jobs with modified duties that would allow them to ease back into work while they recover from their disability. Employers are reportedly operating on tighter budgets, which make them more reluctant to lay off an employee in order to bring back an injured worker on lighter duties during healing.

In addition, the WCRI said there are fewer jobs for injured workers to seek out and employers are becoming less likely to hire workers who have permanent work restrictions.

This, in turn, leads more people to need workers' compensation disability benefits for a longer period of time. However, many injured workers still find it difficult to get the benefits to which they ought to be entitled. North Carolina residents who are struggling to receive benefits should know that there are legal channels available. It can be tricky to file claims and navigate the system, but there is help available, and an experienced attorney can help explain your rights and available options.

Source: Business Insurance, "Ailing economy hurts return-to-work efforts for injured employees: Analysis," Sheena Harrison, Dec. 1, 2011

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