CWCI Scorecard Looks at California Workers’ Comp Claims in the Mercantile Sector

CWCI Scorecard Looks at California Workers’ Comp Claims in the Mercantile Sector

The California Workers’ Compensation Institute has released the third edition of its “Industry Scorecard” which provides detailed data on accident year (AY) 2000 to 2008 claims experience among mercantile workers in California . The new Scorecard is based on an analysis of 281,675 work injury claims filed by wholesale and retail employees involved in a wide variety of jobs, ranging from florists to lumberyard workers. Aggregate loss payments on these claims totaled more than $3.3 billion. The Scorecard notes that workers in the mercantile sector accounted for 1 out of 8 California job injury claims and a similar proportion of paid losses reported during the 8-year span of the study, though those proportions have been dwindling, with the latest results showing mercantile claims down to 8.9% of AY 2008 claims and 8.4% of the payments.

The three most common injury categories for these workers are medical back problems without spinal cord involvement (typically sprains and strains, which comprise nearly a quarter of the claims and one-third of paid losses in this sector); followed by minor wounds and injuries (which account for 22% of the claims, but only 2.7% of the payments); and shoulder, arm, knee and lower leg sprains (14% of the claims, 9.3% of the losses). Data from the post-reform period of AY 2004-2006 shows 70% of the mercantile claims are medical-only cases, but these account for less than 7% of loss costs in the sector; while conversely, about 1 in 7 are permanent disability cases, but these claims account for 78% of total loss payments in the sector. The average amount paid on a mercantile claim did decline briefly following enactment of SB 899, though paid loss data for AY 2006 and AY 2007 show the average amounts paid at 12 and 24 months are again on the rise. For example, average first-year payments on a lost-time claim in the mercantile sector bottomed out at $9,824 ($5,281 medical + $4,543 indemnity) in AY 2005, but by AY 2007 the average had jumped nearly 15% to $11,286 ($6,320 + $4,966).

The scorecard also features a profile of mercantile claimants, plus claim distributions based on claimant job classification and county of residence, nature and cause of injury, primary diagnosis, and employer premium. Claim closure rates at 12, 24 and 36 months post injury also are provided by accident year for all claims and for lost-time claims. 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.

The CWCI’s Industry Score Card Series and summary Bulletins are available to CWCI members and research subscribers who log on to CWCI’s web site, www.cwci.org.  Anyone wishing to subscribe may do so by visiting the Institute’s online Store. The next Score Card in the series will focus on agriculture claims.