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Workers Comp Injuries and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


Workers Comp Injuries vs. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs may explain why injured workers react to their workers comp injuries in so many different ways.   Let us look at the below triangle.

graphic maslow hierarchy of needs workers comp injuries
Wikimedia Commons – Androidmarsexpress

Where Do Workers Comp Injuries Fit On the Chart?

I have found this chart invaluable for understanding how and when injured employees become frustrated with the Work Comp system.   This is not employee advocacy.  Please consider it more of an insight into handling claims.

The needs at the bottom form the base.  Without the basic needs fulfilled, workers comp injuries can become all-encompassing for the injured worker.

Workers comp injuries tend to cover almost all of the chart.

Physiological Needs

Where do food, water, warmth, and rest come from in a workers comp claim?  Providing timely benefits with an explanation of what to expect will usually avoid any confrontational situations at the first of the claim.   I am sure that many claim adjusters supervisors and managers can tell you that if these needs are not met, the employee will vehemently complain and/or seek legal representation.

Safety Needs

Red Emergency workers comp injuries kit
Public Domain – Red Cross

Workers comp claims can wreck the safety and security needs of an injured employee.  One day they are a productive employee, the next day they are a claimant with a whole new system of rules and regulations.  If the injured employee has a severe injury, then the safety needs are not met due to the accident.

Effect of Workers Comp Injuries on Rest of Chart

Even if the above basic needs are covered, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization needs are all very important.   Many of these are covered when the injured employee returns to work.

Injured employees want to still “fit in” and belong to their workgroup.  The main concept to remember is these needs become unimportant to the employee when the above basic needs have not yet been met satisfactorily.

When I first came across this in college, I wrote a few papers on the hierarchy to get through the Sociology and Psychology classes.   When I became an insurance worker in the 1980s, I put the chart to good use when handling claims.  Workers Comp tends to be more personal as the injured worker relies on the claims adjuster or staff to provide for their physiological and safety needs at the beginning of a claim.

Bottom Line – delayed benefits on workers comp injuries can easily ruin the whole claim from day one.


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James J Moore - Workers Comp Expert

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Management Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications


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