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California Reform Institutes Significant Changes To Workers’ Compensation

Injuries at work are subject to complex laws that often necessitate a worker’s compensation attorney to sort out the many nuances. All across the nation insurance costs have skyrocketed while coverage has in fact contracted. Desire for reform has been a consistent theme among employers, and the nation’s most populous state weighed in this week in a major way.

According to a recent Businessweek article, California Governor Jerry Brown and other state legislators have introduced a bipartisan bill that introduces many elements of workers’ compensation reform across the state.

The legislation was pursued because of the rising cost of workers’ compensation insurance, which has drastically increased in the last two years, from $14.8 billion to $19 billion for California businesses.

The Pros:

  • Without the changes in the bill, employers may face insurance premium hikes that could trigger layoffs at a time when California’s unemployment rate remains above 10 percent.

The Cons:

  • The bill may actually hurt those who are most seriously injured by reducing some benefits and limiting care. Brad Chalk, president of the 700-member California Applicants’ Attorneys Association, notes that, “In particular, the legislation restricts the ability of an injured worker to access necessary medical treatment and to receive adequate compensation if a worker is permanently disabled and cannot return to work at the same salary,”

According to another article, the legislation introduced the following measures:

    • Reforms to the antiquated system in which businesses buy insurance or self-insure to provide medical care and compensation to workers who suffer injuries at work or who have fallen ill on the job.
    • Alters how benefits are calculated for injured workers, creates a binding arbitration process to resolve coverage disputes.
    • Eliminates coverage for conditions that most commonly lead to lawsuits, including insomnia and mental health problems.
    • Works to prevent lawsuits by establishing a binding independent review system to resolve medical disputes.
    • Shortens the timeline for approval of treatment from two years to three months.
    • Increases compensation for disabled workers by $740 million a year, which will boost benefits by an average of 29 percent for individual disabled workers.
    • Includes a $120 million a year special fund for victims of catastrophic accidents who cannot return to work.
    • Limits the role chiropractors so they would not be able to serve as a worker’s primary care doctor after hitting a cap of 24 visits a year.

The reforms will drastically change the way worker’s compensation cases are conducted in California, which will almost certainly affect the rest of the nation at some point in the future. For now, cases in Illinois will not be affected.

Injuries at work in Illinois:

  • When suffering a work injury in Illinois, a worker is entitled to several benefits, such as reasonable medical treatment, disability pay, and compensation for his or her injuries. Additionally, your employer is required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Even if you were at fault in a work accident, you are still entitled to recover for your injuries. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act allows workers to recover for their injuries regardless of fault.
  • Individuals hurt at work sometimes have an additional case against a third party (such as a machinery manufacturer) to go along with their workers’ compensation case. You may need an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney ( to help you navigate the complex process.

If you have suffered injuries at work in Illinois, request a Free Work Injury Case Consultation or call (312) 924-7575 to speak with a work injury attorney now.

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