Governor Jerry Brown of California signed a new workers compensation insurance bill into law on September 18th, with the help of both state Democrats and Republicans.
“Whether it’s Washington or Sacramento, there are two sides. Well, today we’re one side, and that one side is helping bring down the cost to businesses while increasing benefits to injured workers. It’s something that’s really important,” the governor said.
California’s legislature just approved the bill on the last night of the session, August 31st. The governor was pivotal in convincing both sides to pass the improvements to workers compensation, a “a real testament to Brown’s capabilities of bringing both sides together,” said Jill Dulich, head of Marriott International’s workers compensation claims division.
In the past two years, workers compensation costs in the state rose from $14.8 billion to $19 billion. The new system, instated through bill SB863, is more efficient and limits litigation time and costs, while increasing payments to disabled workers and saving businesses $1 billion a year. The bill will not only help workers, but small businesses, who struggle with rising insurance costs.
The last time workers compensation laws were changed was in 2004, when then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law that ended up escalating insurance costs and limiting benefits. SB863 is the result of months of negotiations with concerned labor unions and business groups.
To create more benefits while cutting costs, the bill changes how workers compensation costs are calculated, creates a binding arbitration process to resolve disputes without years-long lawsuits, limits the types of coverage (particularly eliminating use of chiropractic care as the primary form of physical therapy), and eliminates coverage for conditions that most commonly lead to lawsuits, such as insomnia and mental health issues. SB863 will also create an independent review system, taking claims out of court, and shortening the wait on workers compensation from years to about three months.
Supporters say the bill will help prevent layoffs, which might otherwise happen because of massive hikes in the cost of insurance. Opponents, however, are concerned about limitations on care and reasons for filing disability.
Workers compensation claims are complicated, and can be denied repeatedly without legal help. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help you with your South Carolina workers compensation claim. We offer free consultations, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.