Calif. Injured Workers Launch ‘Horror Story a Day’

August 15, 2005 on Monday launched a 19-day campaign
spotlighting each day an injured California worker is being harmed by the governor’s reported deep cuts in their permanent disability compensation.

The “Permanent Disability Horror Story” campaign seeks to have the legislature and the governor agree to lessen the governor’s drastic reductions in the reportedmeager compensation injured workers receive. The legislative leaders reportedly promised to change the schedule during this year’s session.

“These are the human faces of the Schwarzenegger permanent disability cuts,” said Mark Hayes, president of, an injured workers’ advocacy group, “The impacts of the governor’s reductions are horrible for injured workers. Injured workers can’t live in the state where they were injured at the job. Californians injured at work are losing their cars, their homes and their good credit under the governor’s ratings.

“There are just 19 days left for the Legislature and the governor to
agree to change the Schwarzenegger Administration’s Permanent Disability Ratings Schedule (PDRS), which studies have shown make steep reductions in injured workers’ compensation.” charges that the schedule “is inconsistent with SB 899, undermines the Legislature’s balanced approach to reform, and threatens to relegate thousands of workers to subsist on constitutionally inadequate benefits. We hope these human horror stories will help show the need for change.”

“My name is Sandra Howell. I’m 46, married and I live in Beaumont, near Ontario. I have raised three children: a son, 25; and two daughters, ages 19 and 21. On May 31, 2001, I was working as an Assistant Manager for Corning-Revere’s World Kitchen store in Cabazon. While setting up a floor display, I ruptured 3 disks in my back when I twisted and grabbed a falling 4′ x 4′ metal display shelf. I woke up that night in horrible pain, and couldn’t get out of bed. An MRI revealed 3 bulging disks, which a diskogram showed were also leaking. I had surgery and have continuing pain and nerve damage. I have been rated totally disabled (100%).

“Before my work injury I enjoyed an active life. Now, I have 2 rods and
6 screws in my back and I can’t even baby-sit my granddaughter. I use a cane, and often need a wheelchair. I’d like to go back to work, but I am unable. My husband and I had plans to travel the world. But I haven’t even driven a car in 3 years, and have trouble getting out of bed in the winter.

“Permanent disability compensation was supposed to replace my lost future earnings due to my injury’s long-term effects. It is also my ONLY compensation for my inability to do many everyday things, engage in recreation, and take part in and enjoy family and social outings. But my compensation under Governor Schwarzenegger’s rating schedule is cut by more than 90 percent!”

Four studies, including one by the insurance industry’s own ratings
bureau, have reportedly found the Schwarzenegger ratings reduce compensation to permanently disabled workers by more than half. One was conducted by a UC Davis Medical School professor; another by the State’s own Commission on Health, Safety and Welfare Compensation (CHSWC); yet another by an insurance defense expert; and the fourth from the insurance carriers’ own ratings bureau.

In April, thousands of injured workers protested the takeaways from permanently disabled workers in the biggest-ever demonstration by injured workers. Originally adopted on Jan. 1, 2005 under the governor’s emergency powers, the schedule recently became permanent.

The studies have reportedly consistently shown Schwarzenegger’s schedule will reduce permanent disability compensation by an average of 50% to 70%.

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