A Santa Rosa workers’ compensation lawyer explains why it is important to have strong laws that protect injured employees

workers compensationWorkers’ compensation serves many purposes. While workers’ comp is sometimes disparaged by insurance executives and employers, it actually serves their interests as well as the interests of working people. The Santa Rosa workers’ compensation lawyer at Kneisler & Schondel wants the public to understand how important it is to safeguard California laws that protect the rights of injured employees.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance – The Tradeoff

Employers, insurance companies, and their lobbyists often complain about workers’ compensation. Insurance companies are always unhappy about paying claims, even though that’s what they are supposed to be doing with the premiums that employers pay. And employers that don’t like to pay premiums grumble about the fact that employees are compensated for injuries that the employer may not have caused.

Yet workers’ compensation laws benefit employers just as much as they help employees. Workers’ compensation is usually an injured employee’s exclusive remedy. That means the employee can’t sue the employer, even if the injury was caused by the employer’s negligence. Since employees would often recover more compensation in a lawsuit than they can recover under workers’ compensation laws, those laws provide a financial benefit to employers and their insurers.

The tradeoff — allowing workers to recover compensation when the employer is not at fault in exchange for giving up the right to sue negligent employers — has been called “the grand bargain” of workers’ compensation. The compromise made by workers’ compensation laws assures that every injured worker who needs medical care or misses at least three days of work will be compensated. They might not receive as much compensation as they would in a fault-based system, but they are assured of compensation even if they cannot prove that their injury was their employer’s fault.

Reasons for Workers’ Comp

Before workers’ compensation was enacted, employees who were injured on the job were often placed in a desperate situation. If their injuries prevented them from working, they had no source of income with which to support themselves or their families. Disabled employees might never return to work.

Without workers’ compensation benefits, injured and disabled employees would turn to public benefit programs for assistance. Those programs are funded by taxpayers and they often result in a substantial reduction in a disabled injured worker’s standard of living.

Workers’ compensation accomplishes three important social benefits. First, it allows injured employees to avoid poverty. Injured workers are given a certain level of replacement income until they can get back to work. Workers who have a permanent disability can avoid becoming dependent on public assistance programs.

Second, workers’ compensation shifts the cost of supporting injured workers from society to employers. Rather than funding income replacement through taxes, employers and their insurers assume the risk of paying benefits to their injured employees. That’s only fair, since without workers, employers would earn no profits.

Third, the workers’ compensation system encourages employers to provide a safe workplace. Because employers pay benefits for workplace injuries, they have an incentive to provide a safe work environment and to train employees to work in a way that will avoid injuries.

Workers’ compensation attorneys understand how important workers’ compensation is to employees. Without a Santa Rosa workers’ comp lawyer on their side, Sonoma County employees might not receive the compensation they deserve. Employers and their insurers too often resist legitimate workers’ comp claims, making it essential to have a trained advocate who is willing to stand up for their interests.

Attacks Upon Workers’ Compensation Laws

Unfortunately, lobbying groups that represent businesses and workers’ compensation insurance companies are constantly attempting to weaken the Grand Bargain. For instance, based on legislation drafted and lobbied for by the workers’ compensation insurance industry, California has limited the number of physical therapy and chiropractic care sessions that injured workers are able to have. Injured workers increasingly turn to Santa Rosa workers’ compensation attorneys to help them fight for the full benefits they need and are entitled to, in order to help them recover from their injuries.

It is just as critical for the public to understand the importance of workers’ compensation in the health care system. As a recent investigation found, states around the country are weakening their workers’ compensation laws in response to intense lobbying efforts by business and insurance groups. That will eventually lead to higher poverty rates and place a greater burden on taxpayers, all to the benefit of employers and insurance companies that put profits ahead of the workers whose labor contributes to their (and the nation’s) economic strength.

Fighting to Protect Workers’ Rights

Workers’ compensation lawyers in Santa Rosa and elsewhere in California stand in the front lines against “reform” efforts that are designed to dismantle the protections offered by workers’ comp laws. We remain committed to helping employees receive the benefits they need to live decent lives while recovering from injuries or while coping with a disabling condition.

Kneisler & Schondel is the leading workers’ compensation law firm in Sonoma County. To put a dedicated Santa Rosa workers’ compensation lawyer on your side, call us at (707) 542-5132 or complete our online contact form.