Across the board, workers’ compensation claims have decreased by about 17.6% between 2011 and 2016. A disturbing trend has developed during this time, however: motor vehicle accidents have increased by 5%. Insurance experts believe that this trend stems from an increased use of smartphones.
Decreasing Workers’ Compensation Claims
Fewer workers’ compensation claims benefit everyone. Employers spend less on workers’ compensation insurance, which boosts profits and puts them in a better position to offer raises and other benefits to employees. Through automation, more extensive safety procedures, and safety gear and equipment, many industries have seen their accident numbers decrease steadily.
Vehicle Accident Statistics
While many industries have seen a decrease in workers’ injuries, fields that rely largely on human drivers have not enjoyed the same results. Taxi drivers, truck drivers, and salespeople have all seen a boost in motor vehicle accidents.
It’s no surprise that smartphones are a contributing factor. Drivers have a tendency to underestimate the risk of answering a text, checking a social media post, or changing the music on their phone. The correlation between smartphone use and car crashes is staggering. In fact, in 2010, just 27% of cell phones in use were smartphones. This percentage hit 81% by the end of 2016, mirroring the current rise in vehicle accidents.
The Impact on Employees and Companies
Vehicle accidents are often much more serious than other types of workers’ compensation cases. Compared to other types of claims, vehicle accidents are 12% more likely to result in a fatality. Many types of workers’ injuries do not impact anyone beyond the injured employee, but motor vehicle accidents often include other parties. In some cases, the company is liable for all medical expenses and property damage caused by their employee, and employees may need to hire workers’ compensation attorneys to ensure that their claims aren’t denied.
Reversing the Trend
There is a significant amount of pressure on legislators and employers to reverse this troubling trend and make the roads safer. Safety experts have pointed to a number of possible solutions. On an individual level, drivers can install apps that block calls and texts while driving. In fact, this feature is built into the latest version of iOS. When this feature is turned on, the iPhone silences incoming notifications when the vehicle is in motion.
On a legislative level, advocates are pushing for a full ban of talking or texting while driving. In many areas, drivers can use a hands-free headset or speakerphone while on the road. Advocates for a full ban point out that those using hands-free headsets are still distracted, which makes a full legislative ban necessary.
Self-driving cars loom on the horizon. Removing the human error factor from driving could make the roads significantly safer, although this technology will likely need years of testing and development before it becomes commonplace.
Let Us Help You With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you’ve been hurt in a motor vehicle accident while on the clock, you need a skilled attorney on your side. Call Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. today at 561-687-5660 for assistance with your workers’ compensation case.