BATON ROUGE — Louisiana has the highest cost per workers’ compensation claim and the lowest average benefit payment per claim, according to a recent 18-state report by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI).
The report, which analyzed 18 comparable states and used available statistics dating back to 2010, found that the average workers' compensation claim in Louisiana costs more than $57,000, nearly $16,700 higher than the 18-state median. Workers' compensation claims in the Bayou State issue $47,401 on average in benefits payments, the lowest in the 18-state review.
The reports's findings come as no surprise to officials at the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), which says it has tried to make common-sense changes to the system in an effort to improve the state’s business climate.
“LABI is all too familiar with the annual WCRI benchmarks analysis and Louisiana’s perennial poor showing in its findings compared with the other states examined in that report,” Jim Patterson, the director of the LABI Employee Relations Council, told the Louisiana Record.
He said there is not one reason why the state fares so poorly in the rankings.
“The reasons for our state’s poor performance are numerous and result in significant friction and inefficiency within its workers' compensation system,” he said. “This yields a more costly system that is burdensome for all stakeholders, and LABI has attempted to work with them to promote reforms to address the problems.”
LABI, however, has not had much success at the legislative level, Patterson said, though it keeps making recommendations.
“We’ve occasionally succeeded, as for example when our state adopted medical guidelines,” he said. “LABI is always looking for an opportunity to advance systemic improvements for the benefit of Louisiana businesses that must bear the costs, particularly small companies that struggle to cover them.”