CWCI Scorecard Examines Restaurant Claims in the California Workers’ Comp System

CWCI Scorecard Examines Restaurant Claims in the California Workers’ Comp System

The California Workers' Compensation Institute has issued its latest "Industry Scorecard" which provides detailed data on claims filed by restaurant workers in California for job injuries that occurred between January 2000 through the end of 2008. The new Scorecard is based on an analysis of 137,339 restaurant sector claims, more than 90 percent of which were filed by employees working in restaurants and taverns, though other food and beverage service workers employed in facilities such as wineries, country clubs and hotels were also included in the sample. Total medical and indemnity benefit payments on these claims amounted to just under $1.1 billion. The Scorecard shows that for the 8-year span ending in 2008, restaurant workers accounted for 6.1% of all California job injury claims, but only 4.1% of the state's workers' compensation benefit payments, though with the ongoing job losses in other employment sectors, those proportions have been growing, with the most recent data showing restaurant claims up to 8.0% of 2008 claims and 5.6% of all claim payments.

The number one injury diagnosis for restaurant workers is minor wound/injury to the skin. These represent nearly 1 out of 3 restaurant claims, but only 4.4% of the loss payments, as they tend to be relatively inexpensive cases in which the worker is treated quickly and returns to work with no lost time. On the other hand, medical back problems without spinal cord involvement (typically sprains and strains) make up less than 1 in 5 restaurant claims but because they can require extended treatment and often result in lost time, they carry a much higher average cost and consume almost 1/3 of paid losses in this sector. Rounding out the top 5 injury categories among restaurant workers are shoulder, arm, knee and lower leg sprains (10.4% of the claims, 8.8% of paid losses); other injuries, poisonings and toxic effects (8.1% of the claims, 9.4% of the payments); and ruptured tendons, tendonitis, myositis and bursitis (3.8% of the claims, 6.0% of the payments). Notably, 2nd or 3rd degree burns, or burns over at least 20% of the body represent 3.6% of the restaurant claims, which is about 5 times the proportion found for all industries, though fortunately, many of these are relatively minor injuries, so burn injuries accounted for only 1.4% of the total dollars paid on restaurant claims.

The scorecard also features a profile of restaurant sector claimants, claim distributions based on claimant job classification and county f residence, nature and cause of injury, primary diagnosis, and employer premium size. Claim closure rates and average benefit payments at 12, 24 and 36 months post injury also are provided by accident year. Pre- and post-reform claim and payment distributions by type of claim (med-only, temporary disability, permanent disability, and death) are shown, as are pre- and post-reform attorney involvement rates for permanent disability claims, with comparative distributions shown for all California work injury claims.

All 7 of CWCI's Industry Score Cards and the summary Bulletins are available to CWCI members and research subscribers who log on to CWCI's web site, http://www.cwci.org/.  Anyone wishing to subscribe may do so by visiting CWCI's online Store. The next Score Card will focus on claims from the trucking industry.