Friday, September 5, 2008

California Workers Try to Regain Lost Workers’ Comp Benefits

Workers’ compensation reform is on the agenda again in California as injured workers try to regain some of the rights and coverage they lost after the passage of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s reform package in 2004. Injured workers in the state are asking lawmakers to increase the benefits available for people who are permanently disabled as the result of a workplace injury. California now has the fourth lowest payout rate for permanently disabled workers,

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, in his third attempt to help injured workers, is pushing legislation, Senate Bill 1717. While Schwarzenegger’s reform packaged reduced workers’ compensation insurance rates to $3 per $100 in payroll, it has done so at the expense of injured workers. Since 2004, disability benefits have plummeted by 50 percent to 70 percent.

The difference in benefits available to injured workers in California and to those in other states is dramatic:
In one example, taken from a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a
worker who lost an ear at work in California would have received an average of
$5,280, but a peer in Oregon would have gotten $100,310; in Arizona, $26,400;
and in Washington, $12,685.

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