Compensation for Accidental Injuries in the United States
One in every six Americans sustains an injury in an accident that results in measurable economic loss, and about one-third of those victims suffer a moderate to very severe injury that imposes significant costs on them and on society. The United States has developed a loose network of public and private programs designed to help alleviate the costs those losses impose by providing compensation to accident victims. This network includes private insurance, publicly subsidized programs like Medicare, work-related programs like workers' compensation, and the fault-based tort liability system. These programs have come under increasing scrutiny, as has the compensation network as a whole. This report evaluates the total system of compensation by examining the role of individual compensation mechanisms; investigating the experience of individual American households; and examining the ways experiences vary by accident, injury, and sociodemographic circumstances. Specifically, it presents the results of the first phase of analysis of data collected in a large, nationally representative survey, the purpose of which was to describe the universe of accidents and injuries the authors studied, develop estimates of costs and compensation, describe the liability claiming process, and examine the correlates of liability claiming.