Calif. Workers’ Comp Permanent Disability Cuts Ruled Not Legal

May 21, 2007

A Workers Compensation Appeals Board judge has invalidated California’s rating schedule that cut injured workers’ permanent disability compensation. According to the California Applicant Attorneys Association, Judge Jacqueline Duncan ruled in Scott Boughner vs. Comp USA Inc. and Zurich North America that the Schwarzenegger Administration violated legislative code because its rating schedule was not based on empirical data.

“The Administrative Director failed to based the adjusted rating schedule on empiracal data and findings from the Evaluation of California’s Permanent Disability Rating Schedule, Interim Report (December 2003), prepared by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, as required by Labor Code 4660(b)(2). The Administrative Director failed to base the adjusted rating schedule on data from empirical studies, as required by Labor Code 4660(b)(2),” the case decision indicated.

In the case, Scott Boughner, an employee of Comp USA Inc., injured his knee during work. Judge Duncan ruled that he was entitled to award for reasonable medical treatment for his knee.

Advocates for injured workers argue that Schwarzenegger’s Administration has cut permanent disability coverage too severly. Since workers’ comp reforms were implemented in 2004, studies have shown PD for disabled workers has been reduced by more than half.

“The court’s decision affirms that the administration’s schedule violates the legislative mandate of Labor Code Section 4660, and is not based on empirical data. We call upon the Legislature to enact a statute that ensures restoration of adequate benefits to permanently disabled workers,” said California CAAA President Linda Atcherley. “We have repeatedly asked the administration to overturn the drastic reductions in the already-meager compensation permanently injured workers receive. Today, we renew that call based upon the court’s decision.”

Sources: CAAA, Scott Boughner vs. Comp USA Inc. and Zurich North America

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