We Must Stand Up Now Against SB 863
As we reported last week, there is new legislation--Senate Bill (SB) 863 (De León)--set to go before the state legislature this week that, if passed, could prove devastating to injured workers in California. In fact, the effects of SB 863 on those hurt on the job will be even worse than those of SB 899, the 2004 Workers' Compensation "Reform Act."
The following is a rundown of why we at Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP (GEK), applicants’ attorneys throughout the state, many doctors, injured workers and labor organizations firmly oppose the bill:
- Although it purports to increase permanent disability (PD) compensation, SB 863 would actually make it very difficult for injured workers to qualify for the disability ratings necessary to receive the increased compensation.
- SB 863 would make it impossible for many injured workers to get accurate disability ratings and sufficient PD compensation.
- It would force many injured workers—those who are severely injured as well as those who are unable to return to work—to lose compensation. This includes many workers who suffer from psychological, sleep and sexual disturbances resulting from their injuries.
- Seriously injured workers who are unable to return to work would receive a lower money award than under the current system.
- Injured workers wouldn’t be able to qualify for PD compensation based on the actual harm their work injury causes to their future earning capacity. There would be no definitive way to measure disability, thus turning it into a totally arbitrary system.
“To say this bill is outrageous is an understatement,” says Adam Dombchik, a GEK partner and Legislative Committee Chairperson of the California Applicants' Attorneys Association (CAAA), a 1,000-member statewide organization that advocates for injured workers’ rights.
“SB 863 is trying to be forced through the legislature without proper public hearings to address concerns raised by injured workers, their attorney advocates and medical doctors. The proposed legislation is more than 250 pages and has not been formally introduced for the state legislators to fully review. This is the same thing that happened in 2004, which resulted in a devastating impact on injured workers and their families.
“The drafters of the bill claim it increases permanent disability for all injured workers in the system, which would be great if it were true, but it is absolutely false. The bill, as drafted, would have a further negative impact on injured workers’ rights.
“We need to make our voices heard now so that SB 863 does not get signed into law. All of us at GEK have long been active in the fight for injured workers by our legal work here in the Southland and our legislative outreach in Sacramento. We ask you to join us by writing to your legislators and imploring them to oppose SB 863.”
If you’re in a union member, contact your union leadership and tell them you object.