How much have workers’ compensation costs increased?
In the last three years, workers compensation insurance pure premium rates set by the Department of Insurance have risen nearly 50 percent. Some businesses have seen their premiums increase as much as 200 percent and more, while others have experienced a more modest but steady increase. (Source: California Chamber of Commerce)
Why have workers’ compensation costs increased?
A person filing a claim is not required to support his/her allegations of injury or pain with objective evidence. Think about what happens as a result. When a person files a claim and is certified for disability, you are not just talking about lost wages. It includes temporary disability benefits, medical treatment benefits, including mileage reimbursement to and from the medical appointments, or educational vouchers and permanent disability benefits, what lawyers like to call potential future earnings. Statewide it amounts to tens of thousands of medical appointments and compensation payments per year to people who cannot support their allegations with objective facts and medical evidence. As a result, there are lawyers, chiropractors, herbalists and acupuncturists along with others who specialize in workers compensation cases. It is an industry that has been overrun by special interests.
What happened to the workers’ compensation system?
California’s workers compensation system was implemented in the early 1900’s to provide medical care to workers injured on the job, a living wage during the period of their rehabilitation and benefits for workers whose injuries resulted in residual permanent disability. In the past several years California’s workers compensation laws have been rewritten and reinterpreted so that they are easy to take advantage of.
What are some of the problems in the current law?
There are plenty. Employers and employees are not treated equally under the current law. The laws are consistently construed to favor the workers making the claim. Unqualified people who are not medical doctors are allowed to evaluate injuries, supervise treatment, certify disability, prepare disability reports and determine if and when someone can return to work. There isn’t even a requirement that the certifying individual evaluate the patient once each month to certify the disability. This is wrong.
How will this initiative fix the system?
This initiative is based upon principles of fairness and equality for everyone who participates in the workers compensation system. It will ensure accountability on the part of the doctors, the employers and employees by requiring facts and objective evidence to support claims and opinions. It will require the courts to treat the employer and employee equally. It will require doctors to base their opinions on the best available scientific evidence, not merely on subjective complaints of pain or conjecture. It will require that employers pay exactly what they are responsible for and it will require that employees receive exactly what they are entitled to, nothing more and nothing less.