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In our state, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have 1 employee or 5,000. Interestingly, the rate of payments for workers’ compensation claims were level in 2014 and medical costs decreased, but premiums shot up by about $2 billion during the same year. Why?
One of the reasons could be that California has recently (2012) enacted provisions that provide more financial compensation while reducing medical expenses. Those provisional changes mean that insurers are responsible for more expenses and that translates to higher premiums. While injured workers can now collect around 29% more financial benefits, California has the highest cost of workers’ compensation in the nation.
Although the statistics seem to tell a story of good news for workers in the state, the reports aren’t showing the full picture. Payment rates may have been level for the last few years, but the increasing costs of workers’ compensation isn’t actually helping many people. Employers are frustrated with the ever-increasing costs, and California has continually cut benefits, making it harder for workers to qualify for benefits over the last decade.
Currently, California is one of two states that ranks worst for benefits cuts and difficult qualifications over time. Medical costs are the highest costing factor in workers’ compensation, followed by financial compensation for injured and disabled workers.
Employers obtain workers’ compensation costs based on job-risk levels. The more dangerous a job, the more insurance a company is required to carry. Some of the highest costing workers’ compensation jobs in the state include oil industry workers, construction, and manufacturing. Safety history and the existence of health insurance offerings also factor into the cost an employer pays for workers’ compensation.
All of this information can be very confusing. While California is nationally recognized for its progressive workers’ compensation statutes, in some ways, it still fails to provide adequate benefits for workers, and it is not cost effective for employers. The economy, in general, is rebounding, but ever-increasing costs of workers’ compensation insurance could put a cap on employee growth for some companies.
Unfortunately, there may not be a single party that is responsible for or that is benefitting from this ever-rising increase in expenses. However, the state has noticed these discrepancies. With more legislators and union leaders talking about the rising costs and the lack of benefits, there may be changes in policy in the next few years. As a worker, paying attention to the changes may help you understand your benefits if you get injured on the job.
Although the big picture of benefits in California is increasingly complex, you do have certain rights as an injured worker in the state. If you have been injured at work, you are entitled to benefits through your employer’s insurance policy. If your employer or the insurance company fails to help you secure adequate compensation, you may have legal recourse to obtain the compensation you deserve to start healing.
At DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo, we specialize in workers’ compensation insurance cases. We understand that the claims process is convoluted and time-consuming, and we can protect your rights as an injured worker in California. A work injury does not have to leave you wondering about how you’re going to pay for medical expenses and your future. Let us help you get through this difficult time with strong, passionate legal representation. Contact our office in Orange County today to learn more.