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How could workforce aging affect workers' comp claims?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its 2017 career outlook report and found that workers aged 65 and older are remaining on the job longer. As a matter of fact, they're expected to continue growing as a percentage of the workforce through 2024. In contrast, the percentage of workers between the ages of 25 and 54 is expected to grow at a much slower rate.

"I think people think, generally, that the workforce is going to start to get a little younger with 10,000 people becoming retirement eligible everyday over the next 17 years," said a spokesperson for Travelers Insurance. "We believe the workforce is going to continue to age."

That could mean serious challenges, both in terms of workplace safety and for workers' compensation insurers. Why? With about one in every four workers already at traditional retirement age, we're going to see more serious workers' comp claims, according to Claims Journal.

At the same time, younger, less experienced workers may be getting injured more often. That's because experienced workers are being replaced by younger, less experienced ones -- and many employers have already cut back on training for new employees. That could mean an increase in serious accidents occurring during a worker's first year on the job.

Older workforce may mean more injuries plus chronic conditions

It's a simple fact that older people are more prone to injury and, indeed, the frequency of on-the-job accidents does increase as workers age, according to the Travelers spokesperson. On top of that, consider that many Americans suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and chronic pain.

"When an injured worker has at least one chronic condition, the workers' compensation claim cost doubles," he told Claims Journal. "If they have two or more, the cost of the work comp claim goes up fivefold."

On the other hand, a disabling or career-ending injury for a young person could mean a workers' comp claim gets paid out for the rest of the worker's life. At that point, youth means the claim will be paid longer. In other words, a catastrophic injury for a young person could be even more expensive than an injury to an older worker with a chronic condition.

It's interesting to know which types of workers are prone to what types of injuries, but your case isn't theoretical. If you've been hurt on the job, reach out to an attorney who can help you with your workers' comp claim and also evaluate your situation for any potential third-party liability claims.

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