2015 The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Large Newsroom winner

Insult to Injury: America’s Vanishing Worker Protections


About the Project

ProPublica’s collaboration with NPR was the first comprehensive look at the ways states have drastically and harmfully cut back on workers’ compensation over the past decade. The reporters, Michael Grabell and Howard Berkes, analyzed reams of insurance industry data, studied arcane state laws and obtained often confidential medical and court records. They found that in addition to slashing benefits — to levels that virtually assure that injured workers will plummet into poverty — states have also shifted the costs of workplace accidents to taxpayers.

In a second story, they laid out the disparities within the U.S., finding that a lost body part can be worth two or three times as much on one side of a state line than the other. The instantly popular news app “How Much Is a Limb Worth,” used renderings of body parts, cartoonishly sized according to their monetary value, to highlight the dramatic differences. An interactive map laid out state-by-state reforms, and we gathered stories with our “Get Involved” module to engage readers and further our reporting.