How Obesity Affects Workers’ Comp Claims

How Does Obestiy Affect Workers Comp Claims?

Prior to June 2013, obesity as all or part of a workers’ comp claim was not considered – because it was not classified as a disease or illnes. So being overweight was previously simply not addressed while determining benefits for work related injuries or illnesses.

However, in June of 2013 the American Medical Association House of Delegates re-classifed obesity as “a disease state.” This was welcome news for California Workers’ Compensation applicants – because any medical condition classified as a “disease state” may be considered a “compensable injury” under workers’ compensation. In other words, providing all criteria are met, the a worker’s obesity may be considered in their workers comp claim.

Obesity May be Compensable in Workers’ Comp

Now that obesity has been re-classified as a disease it may be part-and-parcel of the injured or ill worker’s claim. For example, if treatment (such as medication or immobilization) for a work-related compensable injury causes significant weight gain, the obesity may now be part of the claim.

In the past, if a work related injury or illness caused psychological problems, sexual dysfunction, or sleeping disorders, those conditions were considered a “comorbidity” for which the suffering worker could collect compensation. But they could not collect workers compensation for the side effect of obesity.

Now, with obesity classified as a medically recognized “disease state” obesity resulting from the injury or illness is also a “compensable” condition under certain circumstances. For example, when a work related knee injury or back injury immobilizes you (preventing you from exercising) and causes you to also become obese, it may now be “considered” within your case.

Obesity in Los Angeles Workers’ Compensation Cases

The American Medical Association has reported that obesity affects as many as one-third of the United States’ adult population. This means that the change in the medically recognized status of obesity could affect up to as many as 1/3 of workers’ compensation applicants.

How far this change in classification will affect Workers Compensation claims has already begun to be seen over the last four years since the change in law.

In the September, 2017 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, it was reported that the higher an employee’s body mass index, the higher was their the workers’ compensation payout. In a study of 2,300 workers the average workers comp payout for a normal-weight worker was $180,000, but overweight workers averaged $270,000 and and obese workers averaged $470,000.

It has long been known that obesity leads to a higher likelihood of workplace injury and longer time off work, but this is the first time the effects have been documented.

Top Long Beach Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

As a so-called “co-morbidity”, obesity is a factor that impacts treatment outcomes for many of our clients. Our workers’ compensation lawyers aunderstand the impact obestity this will have on workers comp benefits for our overweight clients.

We know that nobody wants to be overweight, but we understand that sometimes a medical condition or injury makes it impossible to exercise or lose weight. If you are suffering from a weight or obesity condition related to your work injury or illness, call us today.

Long Beach Workers Comp Lawyers: 562-622-4800