More WC Claims for Motor Vehicle Accidents Due to Cell Phone Use?

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) released a new research brief examining a recent increase in the frequency and severity of workers compensation (WC) claims for motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) and discussing potential contributing factors.

“While workers compensation claims have been declining, motor vehicle accidents have been on the rise over the last five years,” said Jim Davis, author of the paper and NCCI director and actuary. “These often involve very serious injuries that can take their toll on injured workers and their families. Our intent is for this article to bring attention to this troubling trend and generate more discussion on possible solutions.”

NCCI actuaries, using detailed policy information from NCCI’s Statistical Plan database, found that, despite the overall frequency decline in WC claims, the frequency of WC claims for MVAs increased from 2011 to 2016 (the most recent year for which data is available). Additionally, NCCI determined that an astonishing 41% of fatal WC claims were the result of an MVA.

The increase in MVAs is a phenomenon that is not limited to workers compensation. NCCI found a similar pattern in the general population of the United States, with MVAs generally increasing over the same time period, along with a troubling increase in the number of traffic accident fatalities.

Notably, over the same period that MVAs increased, a rapid expansion of cell phone, and particularly smartphone, ownership occurred and may have been a contributing factor. According to the National Safety Council’s Cell Phone Policy Kit, a minimum of 27% of crashes involve drivers talking and texting on their phones. However, that report also states that driver cell phone use is likely highly underreported and, therefore, substantially underestimated.

View the complete research brief, “Motor Vehicle Accidents in Workers Compensation (PDF)