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September 10, 1982

The Law and Economics of Workers' Compensation

JAMA. 1982;248(10):1249-1250. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330100075052

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This Institute for Civil Justice (the Rand Institute) report is as important for physicians as it is for attorneys and policymakers. After outlining the history of workers' compensation, the authors examine coverage, income protection, medical care and rehabilitation, safety incentives, and delivery systems. An analysis of how the system works, current policy issues, and suggestions for research complete the report.

The authors debunk the myth that the system provides a speedy, relatively certain, and uncomplicated remedy: workers' compensation has "replaced litigation over who is at fault with litigation over what is at fault... and what the effects... will be on the victim." Nearly two thirds of occupational disease claims are contested, as compared with one tenth of accident claims and one fifth of all claims. A US Department of Labor estimate that only 3% of occupational diseases enter the claims process may not surprise physicians, but should cause them to