The Honolulu Civil Beat has a three-story series on workers’ compensation.
This is in Hawaii, and much of the Hawaii law does not track with Oregon law, but many of the problems are the same. I am going to post the three articles separately. Here is the first one, which is titled Insurance “Hell” Leaves Many Injured Workers Broken. This tells a story of the difficulties of Hawaii’s litigation system. It also discussed the use of so-called independent medical evaluations. Oregon has a similar problem with insurance company doctors cutting off injured workers. Our litigation system tends to be faster than the Hawaiian litigation system, but workers are the ones who end up paying the price when they get cut off. It is long but it is certainly worth the read.
Insurance ‘Hell’ Leaves Many Injured Workers Broken
In Hawaii’s workers’ comp system, people with long-lasting injuries are often forced to battle doctors hand-picked by insurance companies to get treatment.
Part 1 of an ongoing series about Hawaii’s workers’ compensation system.
Kolen Kauwalu was pumping liquid concrete, helping to assemble a platform that would anchor one of the construction cranes that loom over the Honolulu skyline, when it started to rain.
He lost his footing on the slick platform, falling about 12 feet to the ground, landing on his left leg. The pain in his knee was immediate. His skin felt hot.
Kauwalu didn’t know it on that March day in 2007, but he was about to embark on a 10-year odyssey into Hawaii’s system for compensating and treating injured workers.
Kauwalu has a simpler name for it: “Hell.”
An eight-month investigation by Honolulu Civil Beat found that Hawaii’s workers’ comp system forces many injured workers with long-lasting or complex injuries to battle insurance companies and their hand-picked doctors to get treatment and disability payments.
The system was designed to be “no-fault,” much like auto insurance – you get hurt, you get treatment.
But for workers like Kauwalu, it too often turns into a litigious nightmare.
A CIVIL BEAT INVESTIGATION
BY JOHN HILL