title refers to a workers’ compensation system in which worker injuries,
illnesses, fatalities often cost an employer far less than correcting a
safety/health hazard in the workplace; and to a system in which the
employer is virtually immune from prosecution for the depraved
indifference that results in severe injury, toxic exposure, or
Every eight minutes in this country, someone
dies from an occupational illness or injury.
All across America,
in every state, across industries and occupations, workers are being
injured, or killed on the job, or exposed to toxic chemicals from which
they are dying. What has happened
to our nation that has allowed corporations and insurers to throw away
the lives, the health of so many without caring, without fear of
exposure, without being held accountable? It’s called Workers’
Compensation, the system we thought was there to protect us if we were
injured on the job.
The stories in Depraved Indifference: the Workers’
Compensation System are the stories
of ordinary people. Discarded and forgotten by their employers, denied
medical coverage by the workers’ compensation insurers; many have been
left to die, slowly and agonizingly, unnoticed by all but the ones who
really care - their grieving families.
Depraved Indifference: the
Workers’ Compensation System represents over five years of
research and interviews. The last chapter explores where we can go from
here to create a system of fairness and justice, a system that works,
that puts the responsibility and accountability on the employer to make
the workplace safe and healthy for workers.
Indifference by Patrice Woeppel is a well researched look at the
failure of workers’ compensation laws to deliver the promise of fast,
sure and adequate benefits based upon a no fault approach to
compensating on-the-job injury and death. The author makes the case that
miniscule benefits, the ability to starve out injured workers and their
families, the lack of official oversight, the lack of meaningful
penalties for violations and the lack of any criminal prosecution of
employers for criminal acts of “depraved indifference” to human life,
make for an unsafe workplace for millions of Americans. The numbers are
staggering. It is an epidemic of death and economic destruction in the
American workplace, unchecked by trial by jury to bring wrongdoers to
the bar of justice.”
-Mark L. Zientz, Esq.
Woeppel explains the problem and also lays out a solution
"… Depraved Indifference: The Workers' Compensation System is a scholarly look at the American workers' compensation laws and how they are unjust for today's world filled with high risk jobs and deadly chemicals that many must work with almost daily. With a suggested reform model presented, Woeppel explains the problem and also lays out a solution, giving Depraved Indifference a critical recommendation.”
-James Andrew, Midwest Book Review
“The workers’ compensation system does more to protect corporations than injured workers, according to this well-researched analysis that draws on a number of actual cases, including the author’s own experience after an injury while working in a hospital. The final chapter gives her prescription for reform.”
-Matt Witt, City University of New York, New Labor Forum, Vol. 18, No. 2: Spring, 2009.
“Depraved Indifference: The Workers’ Compensation System is
the best book on workers’ compensation in thirty years.
-Daniel M. Berman, Ph.D., author of Death On the Job: Occupational Health and Safety Struggles in the United States.
“After reading your
conclusions, I had a good cry. It was the acknowledgement of it all:
something the families rarely get. You have done a remarkable
-Tammy Miser, Founder, United
Support & Memorial For Workplace Fatalities.