Report: High Volume, Low Costs For Comp Claims in Northernmost California

March 13, 2017

California’s northern most counties accounted for 1.1 percent of the state’s workforce but 3.3 percent of the job injury claims, according to a report from the California Workers’ Compensation Institute.

CWCI’s regional score card provides data on claims filed by workers from Del Norte, Humboldt, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama and Trinity counties for job injuries that occurred between 2005 and 2015.

The report analyzed data from 63,000 claims that resulted in $738 million in payments for medical and indemnity benefits.

Despite a high ratio of job claims, the Northern county claims had lower average costs, so they consumed just 2.2 percent of the state’s total workers’ comp paid losses, the report shows.

CWCI found that 70.6 percent of claims from the Northern Counties were filed by men – well above the rate in the rest of the state and the highest level among all eight regions of California.

Given that the area is sparsely populated and heavily forested, agricultural workers, which includes those in ranching, forestry, fishing, and hunting, filed nearly a quarter of the claims – four times the proportion in other regions. Construction workers accounted for another 13.5 percent, according to the report.

Strains represented a relatively large share of the claims, as did specific injury categories like foreign bodies, punctures, lacerations and fractures, which likely reflects the blue collar workforce. As in other regions, minor wounds and injuries to the skin were the leading diagnoses, followed by strains and sprains of the back, shoulder, arm, knee and lower leg, the report shows.

However, the report shows that claims for degenerative, infective, and metabolic joint disorders were also more prevalent and consumed nearly 15 percent paid losses in the region vs. 8.3 percent in other regions.

Overall, employers and claims administrators were notified of the injuries and initial treatment began sooner in the Northern counties than in other regions; and the claims had lower attorney involvement rates, fewer medical visits, lower rates of permanent disability, and shorter durations, according to the report.

The final CWCI score card in the series will focus on claims from the Sierras, encompassing much of the Gold Country and the mountainous areas that border Nevada from north of Lake Tahoe south to Death Valley.

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