CRACKS IN THE SYSTEM
Most workers' compensation cases proceed without problems. The great majority of the cuts, scrapes, minor exposures to hazardous chemicals, foreign objects in the eyes, and other fairly minor injuries that occur on the job require only a small amount of first aid. More severe injuries, such as strains and sprains, typically resolve by themselves within one to two weeks, even if no care is given. However, the complex nature of the workers' compensation system can make even a simple injury complicated.
While many workers are able to remain on the job while recovering from injury, some cannot perform their normal duties. In these cases the primary dffficulties are not necessarily the injuries themselves, but the barriers to returning to work. This chapter will explore these barriers and how they create holes, or cracks, in the workers' compensation system.
A barrier or obstacle in a workers' compensation situation, is something that makes a case stop moving to a conclusion. Progress becomes blocked; the case stagnates. When such an obstacle is in place, all parties become frustrated. The first step in overcoming it is recognizing it ( Tramposh, 1988).