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The changing landscape of workers' compensation

According to both doctors, lawyers and insurance professionals, the workers' compensation landscape has changed–and is changing–in significant ways.

In particular, some factors are responsible for the changing the face and application of the industry over the past decade, including the opiate epidemic and the increasing online presence of the everyday worker. 

In some states, lawmakers are amending guidelines in response to the opiate epidemic by capping medical benefits at 400 weeks. Previously, claimants would get disability payments only until the 400 week cap, but medical coverage would remain in place for the lifetime of the injury.

However, due to the prevalence of opiate abuse, some states are now capping medical benefits at 400 weeks as well, according to an article in

“The opiate epidemic has catalyzed the need for guidelines to be changed because opiate usage has mushroomed and become a major problem,” said Dr. Laura Gardner, vice president of CLARA Analytics.  

How Social Media Has Changed Workers' Compensation

Another change to the workers' compensation industry has been the growing role social media plays in everyday life. Facebook and other platforms have helped workers' comp employees and investigators spot fraudulent cases without expending capital on private investigators and the like.

Nowadays, people's own posts on their social media profiles can tip off professionals to potential workers' compensation disability fraud. 

The Prevalence Of The 1099

Another key change to the workers' compensation landscape is the growing number of independent contractors and other "1099" employees, who may not receive full benefits and may not receive full coverage.

Experts see this issue as one that will grow in importance as the so-called "gig-economy" expands. In particular, Uber and other companies that work with individuals on a 1099 basis, may cause further changes to the workers' compensation system. 

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