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Study Reveals Disparity In Workers Compensation Claims

A recent study into Illinois workers’ compensation awards found that white non-Hispanic construction workers tended to receive more benefits than Hispanic or black construction workers. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health who compared state workers’ compensation data and public health records from 2000 to 2005. The common types of workers’ compensation injuries for construction workers included open wounds, internal injuries and bone fractures.

The study found that white workers received about $6,000 more than minority workers that had similar injuries in the same industry. Whites received substantially more money from workers’ compensation claims even after researchers controlled for wages, disability level and the use of attorneys.

“One explanation is that there is some systemic bias or prejudices occurring within the system,” the study’s lead author said. “Or, it could be that the level of information and knowledge about how the system works – and what can actually be litigated, disputed, or requested for compensation – might vary by ethnic group.”

Several law firms in Chicago help combat the biases against minority workers’ compensation workers by specifically providing Spanish-language outreach and education programs for construction workers.

The workers’ compensation study was published in the October issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.