Morgan Fairchild will star in “Workers Comp,” a half-hour TV sitcom about - yes - the workers compensation insurance industry. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Jayel Aheram/Flickr)

Workers’ compensation is no laughing matter for injured employees, overworked colleagues and employers who have to pay higher insurance premiums, but apparently Hollywood thinks otherwise. Deadline reports that a half-hour sitcom project called “Workers Comp” is currently shooting in Sarasota, Fla. It’s co-written by 19-year-old cast member Castille Landon, whose real-life family owns a workers compensation insurance business. “Workers Comp” follows the “who’s-scamming-who” exploits of fraud investigators and the often bizarre insurance claims they investigate.

The story of ‘Workers Comp’

The cast of “Workers Comp” is led by family matriarch Joan (played by Emmy Award-nominated actress Morgan Fairchild of “Falcon Crest” fame), who runs the family-owned workers’ compensation insurance company with Robert Carradine (from “Revenge of the Nerds”) and David Proval (from “The Sopranos”). Castille will play Zoe, Joan’s daughter. Shooting in Sarasota reportedly began on April 10. The prospective sitcom is being produced by David Sauers (“Taking Woodstock”) and former Universal Studios legal exec Mark Wooster, reports Deadline Hollywood.

Will ‘Workers Comp’ lend itself to comedy?

Bankrate.com columnist Jay MacDonald wants to know whether “Workers Comp” will contain enough humor. For it to succeed, “Workers Comp” will likely have to capture the audience that enjoys the white collar humor of “The Office.” However, the inanities of Dunder Mifflin as featured in the Steve Carell vehicle have spoken to a more generalized office angst that had previously been well-mined by the “Dilbert” cartoon strip and the feature film “Office Space.” “Workers Comp” appears to be a gimmick factory in the making.

An unfunny industry

Will that gimmick be funny enough for an ongoing series? Workers’ compensation is insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits for employees injured while on the job. The employee relinquishes the right to sue his employer for negligence by accepting what labor and industry insurance insiders call “the compensation bargain.” In the event of a serious injury, not being able to sue isn’t funny.

It isn’t funny for employers or insurers, either. According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. (NCCI), the average workers’ compensation indemnity claim costs go up anywhere from 2 to 5 percent per year. As employment sectors that were hit hardest by the economic downturn – manufacturing and contracting – tend to have the largest claims, costs can skyrocket at the worst time possible. Meanwhile, workers’ comp insurers historically barely break even, reports NCCI.

Americans may be too cynical to enjoy ‘Workers Comp’

MacDonald suggests the the currently economic climate in the U.S. may cause “Workers Comp” to hit a bit too close to home. Insurance companies will likely still come off as penny-pinching crooks, and the reality of injured worker fraud – which is less than 1 percent of all workers’ compensation claims, according to industry reports – will no doubt be buried beneath all the jokes.

Sources

Bankrate.com: http://www.bankrate.com/financing/insurance/workers-comp-the-tv-show/

Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecec.nr0.htm

Deadline Hollywood: http://www.deadline.com/tag/castille-landon/

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers%27_compensation

Real workers compensation ‘comedy’ (Note: A highly disturbing image)

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