Workers' comp apportionment bill passes Assembly insurance

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, April 21, 2011 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

AB 1155 (Luis Alejo, D-Salinas), which undermines apportionment in the workers’ compensation system, was heard in the Assembly Insurance committee last week.   It was a lively debate with sponsors arguing that there is discrimination in the work comp system and opponents contending that there is no court case that has upheld discrimination as legal.

Apportionment is the concept that an employer should only be liable for the amount of permanent disability that was caused by an industrial injury or illness that occurred in the course and scope of employment.

There is currently nothing in the Labor Code that allows for discrimination based on protected classes when adjusting the workers’ compensation disability rating. In fact, the labor code specifically outlines that the process of determining apportionment should focus on one major principle — that an employer is not liable for a disability that was not the result of an industrial injury suffered while the injured worker was employed by that employer.

Proponents of this legislation claim that regardless of what the Labor Code says this practice of discrimination is prevalent but they were not able to point to court cases where a permanent disability adjustment was based on a protected classes’ characteristics and then upheld by a higher court.  The reality is that the California Supreme Court has repeatedly said that apportionment is legal and in a case where there is no sufficient evidence for the adjustment the rating is remanded.

AB 1155 will automatically increase litigation in an effort to overturn every reasonable apportionment case.  It will not provide any greater protection to injured workers.

This bill will be heard next on the Assembly floor.

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