California: Trucking industry resulted in costs of $480 million over 8-year period
The California Workers' Compensation Institute report was based on an analysis of more than 23,000 workplace injury claims filed by employees in the state's trucking sector. The trucking industry includes 173 different job categories, including clerical office employees and warehousemen, but is dominated by workers who transport goods by truck. Researchers said these workers accounted for about 83 percent of the claims and nearly 87 percent of the losses during the study period.
For the eight-year span ending in 2008, the report found that trucking industry workers filed only 1 percent of all California job injury claims. However, because of their high average cost, these claims accounted for 1.8 percent of the state's workers' comp benefit payments. Notably, researchers said those proportions were falling even before the state's economic slump, though the most recent data showed that in accident year 2008 the trucking industry was down to just 0.6 percent of California injury claims and 1.2 percent of the payments. The study concluded that these reductions were likely due to ongoing shifts in the state's job market.
Measuring average amounts paid on lost time claims at 12, 24, and 36 months postinjury across the eight-year span of the study, researchers found that average medical and indemnity payments on the trucking industry claims were consistently higher than the all-industry average. For example, the most recent data showed first-year payments on accident year 2007 trucking industry lost time claims averaged $18,587 ($8,982 medical and $9,605 indemnity). This was 41 percent more than the average of $13,157 ($7,189 medical and $5,968 indemnity) paid on all accident year 2007 lost time claims in California.
Researchers said this pattern of higher medical and indemnity payments on the trucking industry claims was also noted among older claims on which more fully developed data was available. For example, paid losses on accident year 2005 trucking industry claims measured at 36 months postinjury averaged $31,220 ($14,686 medical and $16,534 indemnity), or 32 percent more than the $23,594 average paid on all indemnity claims at the same three-year benchmark. Among the factors that may have contributed to the higher costs, the study pointed to a different mix of injuries, a considerably older claimant population, and a high attorney involvement rate.
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May 3, 2010
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