Legislation to reform apportionment introduced

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Feb. 22, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) and the California Applicant Attorney’s Association have introduced SB 1115 which prohibits apportionment on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, age, gender, marital status, sex, or genetic predisposition. The bill makes a flawed assumption that the current Workers’ Compensation system allows for the discrimination in awarding disability benefits based on these factors.  

In a recent unpublished decision (Vaira vs Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and California Travel and Tourism Commission) the Third District Court of Appeal clearly stated, "Reducing permanent disability benefits based on a pre-existing condition that is a contribution factor of a disability is not discrimination."

Nevertheless, the sponsors of SB 1115 argue that this bill is needed to ban discrimination and increase injured workers’ benefits.  When SB 899 was passed in 2004 it established a fair system which created impartial employer liability and equitable compensation for the injured worker.  The courts agree that apportionment should be allowed for pre-existing conditions that contribute to the overall permanent disability assessment. In addition, the courts have indicated that an injured worker should only be compensated for the disability caused by the industrial injury.  Currently, all injured workers are compensated equally regardless of pre-existing conditions.

SB 1115 will be heard in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on February 27th.
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