Work-related injuries due to traffic accidents are relatively costly and are on the increase as a growing share of workers compensation loss costs.
According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc., the total costs of traffic accidents borne by employers are many times greater than the workers compensation claims costs due to traffic accidents.
Efforts to reduce the frequency and severity of workers compensation claims due to highway traffic accidents could generate more extensive benefits than just lower claims costs, according to the industry organization. NCCI said the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety estimates that both on- and off-the-job motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion per year from 1998 through 2000.
In a recent study, NCCI cited traffic accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States and noted that the high cost of traffic accident-related injuries and deaths is not limited to workers compensation claims. Moreover, the total costs of traffic accidents borne by employers are many times greater than the workers compensation claims costs due to traffic accidents.
NCCI said a key step in reducing high-cost injuries is developing a sound understanding of the characteristics of high-cost claims.
Key findings of the NCCI study:
• Motor vehicle accidents are more severe than the average workers compensation claim, comprising close to 2 percent of claims but more than 5.5 percent of losses, on average, from 1997 to 2003. They are more likely to be lost-time and comprise a disproportionate share of the most severe claim types.
• Risk varies by type of vehicle. Frequency of fatalities is higher for trucks; frequency of nonfatal injuries is higher for passenger vehicles.
• Motor vehicle accidents comprise a growing share of workers compensation injuries. Frequency is declining but at a slower pace than for workers compensation claims overall.
• In terms of claims characteristics, motor vehicle claims impact a diverse range of occupations in addition to truckers (particularly salespersons and clerical). Top diagnoses include neck injuries, duration is more than 70 percent longer, subrogation is significant, and attorney involvement is greater.
• Driver attitudes and driving practices are essential to safety, and employers can play a large part in encouraging safe practices and procedures.
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