California’s work comp system, specifically the mandatory insurance program, is changing.
The objective of the overhaul is to provide better insurance for injured workers without causing business premiums to rise. They are attempting to accomplish this goal by squeezing waste out of the state’s $15 billion work comp system.
The average compensation paid to California workers with a permanent partial disability decreased by more than half in the last 8 years. This is the result of laws passed in 2004 that curtail business premiums. Many injured workers spend years in court trying to get their benefits while being too injured to return to work.
Some people are afraid that increasing premiums would harm the ability for businesses to hire, during a time when unemployment is already dangerously high. Others think there are alternative solutions to the problem.
“The focus should always be about making the system better for injured employees—they are the true victims here,” says MN workers’ comp attorney Ben Heimerl. “If employers want to lower their premiums, they should make the workplace safer and there will be fewer accidents. Alternatively, they can spend less money defending legitimate claims. Making the system less expensive shouldn’t mean taking money out of the victims’ pockets. This is a true in Minnesota as well. It’s about time the pendulum swung the other way—toward injured workers, and away from big businesses. “