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California passes bill reforming workers' compensation insurance

The governor of California recently signed a bill overhauling the state's workers' compensation program, which has a budget of over $17 billion. The bill would increase the payments of disability benefits to workers permanently disabled by job injuries by $740 million per year, and would give companies a break on workers' compensation insurance premiums. California's governor personally lobbied hard for the bill, pleading directly with legislators and supplying an extra $120 million per year for permanently disabled workers. The bill passed the California legislature on the last night of its session.

It is estimated that had the bill not been passed, California businesses would have had to pay an 18 percent increase in their workers' compensation insurance premiums when they renewed their policies. In addition, employers agreed to a 4 percent decrease in overall medical and compensation costs. The bill streamlines the process of treatment for workers, allowing them to receive care within 30 days of their injury, rather than having to go through the months-long litigation process.

Many occupations, such as construction or factory work, are riddled with unsafe conditions. Workers may become injured due to repetitive motions required by the job, or by the dangerous conditions of the workplace itself. They may also become ill due to exposure to toxic chemicals. They may develop long-term illnesses such as Mesothelioma or Asbestosis. Workers in high-risk industries must be wary of these pitfalls.

Fortunately, any worker injured or taken ill on the job is entitled to workers' compensation benefits. An injured or ill worker may recover temporary or permanent disability benefits, medical treatment benefits, or if the worker is killed on the job, then his or her family may recover death benefits. An injured or ill worker is entitled to a just and fair compensation for his or her condition.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Brown signs bill revamping workers' compensation insurance," Dalina Castellanos, Sept. 19, 2012

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