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California lawmakers continue to seek to deny benefits to workers

As a culture, we like to believe that we have come a long way in the area of workplace safety in the last century. Government safety officials promote safety in most any type of workplace. Still work-related accidents can occur, whether in a cubicle, or on a construction site. Additionally, a worker may develop a work-related injury or medical condition over time.

More than a century ago, California sought ways to help ensure that injured workers receive medical care and other benefits for work-related conditions. The workers’ compensation system was developed to allow injured workers in seeking benefits for work-related injuries. At the same time, the laws limit the liability of employers and co-workers in many situations as a trade off for allowing workers’ compensation benefits.

Over the past few months, we have occasionally discussed a proposal making its way through the California Legislature that is aimed at eliminating workers’ compensation benefits for many professional athletes who suffer injury in work-related incidents in California. The proposal, AB 1309, remains alive, but has seen a few tweaks during its fast-track course through the legislature.

The NFL Players Association and other groups associated with professional athletes are fighting against changing California workers’ compensation laws to eliminate benefits for work-related injuries among many athletes.

As we noted in May, out-of-state pro athletes pay California income taxes when they come to California to earn a paycheck. One of the recent changes to workers’ compensation law is an amendment to AB 1309 which says that an athlete would need to spend two or more seasons playing for a California team to remain eligible for benefits after leaving the state, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Imagine if time limits for workers’ comp eligibility applied to office workers who develop carpal tunnel syndrome, or a construction worker who comes to California to work on a project and is struck by a slab of concrete.

As previously discussed, what about truckers and over the road sales people?

Team owners apparently want to reduce their costs at the expense of workers injured on the job in California, and lawmakers continue to consider granting the owners their wish.

Generally, workers’ comp is not a taxpayer issue. The measure is moving forward and is expected to reach the governor’s desk in August, according to the L.A. Times. We will continue to follow the controversial changes to worker protection laws in California.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Athlete workers' comp limits are headed to the goal line,” Marc Lifsher, July 21, 2013

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