Trucking Led To $480 Million in Calif. Workers’ Comp Payments

March 16, 2010

Injuries in the trucking industry led to more than $480 million in workers’ compensation medical and indemnity payments, according to the California Workers’ Compensation Institute.

The group, which released a new “Industry Scorecard” showing detailed data on accident year (AY) 2000 to 2008 work injury claims experience in the California trucking industry, said its analysis is based on an analysis of more than 23,000 work injury claims filed by workers in the state’s trucking sector. The trucking industry encompasses 173 different job categories, including clerical office employees and warehousemen, but is dominated by workers who transport goods by truck. These workers account for about 83 percent of the claims and nearly 87 percent of the losses in this sector.

For the eight–year span ending in 2008, the Score Card shows that trucking industry workers filed just 1 percent of all California job injury claims, but because of their high average cost, these claims accounted for 1.8 percent of the state’s workers’ compensation benefit payments. Notably, those proportions were falling even before the state’s economic slump, though the most recent data show that in accident year 2008, the trucking industry was down to just 0.6 percent of California job injury claims and 1.2 percent of the payments, reductions that are 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 post injury across the eight-year span of the study, the Score Card 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 show first-year payments on AY 2007 trucking industry lost-time claims averaged $18,587 ($8,982 medical + $9,605 indemnity) — 41 percent more than the average of $13,157 ($7,189 medical + $5,968 indemnity) paid on all AY 2007 lost-time claims in California. This pattern of higher medical and indemnity payments on the trucking industry claims also was noted among older claims on which more fully developed data was available. For example, paid losses on AY 2005 trucking industry claims measured at 36 months post-injury averaged $31,220 ($14,686 medical + $16,534 indemnity), or 32 percent more than the $23,594 average paid on all indemnity claims at the same 3-year benchmark. Among the factors that may have contributed to the higher costs: a different mix of injuries, a considerably older claimant population and a high attorney involvement rate.

The Institute’s latest Score Card includes a profile of trucking industry claimants, claim distributions based on job classification and the claimants’ county of residence, the nature and cause of injury, the primary diagnosis, and the amount of premium paid by the employer. Claim closure rates at 12, 24 and 36 months post injury also are provided by accident year for all claims and for lost-time claims. Pre- and post-reform claim and payment distributions by type of claim (med-only, temporary disability, permanent disability, and death) are shown, as are pre- and post-reform attorney involvement rates for permanent disability claims, with comparative distributions shown for all California work injury claims.

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Source: CWCI

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