The Most Common Workers’ Compensation Injuries

30 Apr, 2024 Tanisha Dilbert


By: Tanisha Dilbert, Manager, Operations, Apricus

In workers’ compensation staying well-informed about the most common and costly injuries is crucial to navigating the complexities of cases. This knowledge provides claims professionals with a thorough understanding of potential challenges, enabling them to make more effective decisions with greater insight.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, private industry employers reported 2.3 million nonfatal workplace injuries in 2022, up 4.5 percent from 2021. Additionally, between 2021 and 2022, there were 2.2 million cases of days away from work. The annual incidence rate was 112.9 cases per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers, with a median 10 days away.

Top injuries/exposures involving days away from work, job transfer or restriction (reported from private industry employers from 2021-2022):

  1. Overexertion and Bodily Reaction: 1,001,440 cases
    Encompasses non-impact injuries arising from excessive physical effort towards an external source, including activities like lifting, pushing, turning, holding, carrying, or throwing. It may also include repetitive motion injuries, which stem from microtasks causing stress or strain on the body due to their repetitive nature, often without intense exertion.
  2. Contact With Objects and Equipment: 780,690 cases
    Involves various workplace injury scenarios, including incidents like a moving object hitting an individual, an individual colliding with an object or equipment, body parts getting squeezed, pinched, compressed, or crushed in machinery, caught between shifting or stationary objects, or in a wire or rope. It also includes injuries from collapsing structures, equipment, or materials, as well as those resulting from friction or pressure between the individual and the source of injury, and injuries caused by vibration.
  3. Falls, Slips, Trips: 674,100 cases
    Includes several types of workplace injuries, like slips and trips without falling, falling on the same level (falling while sitting, colliding with objects), falling to a lower level (falling from collapsing structures, from ladders, roofs or scaffolding) and jumping to a lower level (controlled and voluntary descents).
  4. Exposure to Harmful Substances or Environments: 658,240 cases
    Encompasses various hazards, such as exposure to electricity, radiation, noise, extreme temperatures, changes in air and water pressure, contagious and infectious diseases, oxygen deficiency and traumatic or stressful events.
  5. Violence and Other Injuries by Persons or Animals: 124,040 cases
    Includes both intentional and unintentional injuries caused by other people, as well as incidents involving animals and insects.
  6. Transportation Incidents: 112,410 cases
    Comprises of several types of accidents involving aircraft, rail, water, and motorized land vehicles, including collisions with other vehicles and objects. It may also include accidents with individuals struck by vehicles in work zones.

Analyzing lost time claims data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) from 2020 to 2021 reveals that some injuries have more significant financial impacts than others. By understanding the nuances of these high-cost scenarios, adjusters can better navigate the complexities of an injured employee’s needs, ensuring timely and informed care decisions.

Injury by Cause

The most expensive workers’ compensation claims, leading to lost time, are attributed to motor vehicle crashes, averaging $89,152 per claim. The only other causes surpassing the average costs include burns, falls or slips, and caught incidents.

Injury by Type

The highest cost lost time workers’ compensation claims, based on the type of injury, are those stemming from amputations. These injuries had an average of $126,033. The following highest costs were associated with injuries leading to fractures, crushes, or dislocations, and burns.

Injury by Body Part  

The most expensive lost time workers’ compensation claims based on the affected body part are those related to the head or central nervous system. These injuries averaged $94,285. The next highest costs were associated with injuries to the neck and multiple body parts.

Navigating the landscape of specialty solutions requires a keen awareness of the factors that significantly impact the cost and duration of claims. Apricus works to coordinate the most effective injury-recovery services for those who have work related injuries. When these types of injuries occur, having access to an experienced resource for all equipment and services, with clinical oversight and a national specialty provider network can offers a program that delivers outstanding results and injured employee satisfaction. 

About the Author

Tanisha oversees the Specialty DME and Diagnostic Program. Her responsibilities include managing day-to-day operations, improving operational efficiency, performance management and enhancing customer experience. She has over 17 years of experience in the workers’ comp industry, including 13 years as a people leader.

Tanisha is also a regular contributor to our Specialty Solutions Spotlight where this article originally appeared. To ask and find the answers to more work comp specialty questions visit our website and subscribe to our monthly series.


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