Don’t Let Big Insurance Pull The Wool Over Your Eyes!
By Sam Gold
Injured Workers Television Network
The insurance industry and specifically large self-insured companies are ramping up support in Sacramento for another, as they call it, Workers Compensation Reform – a very bad choice of words as the definition of the word reform means “the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt or unsatisfactory!” And corrupt and unsatisfactory it most certainly is, but not caused by employees, but the employers and their insurers. They have the vast financial resources to lobby our legislators who will gladly take their political contributions to make changes in existing law.
To put this issue into proper context, keep in mind that Workers’ Compensation was concocted over 100 years ago; not by injured workers or their advocates, but by employers and their insurers who had one sole objective in mind, to reduce their liability against civil litigation when their employees were injured in the line of work. And in over 100 years, that objective hasn’t changed one bit! And injured workers haven't had very much say in what happens to them!
The reality is this, the injured worker simply doesn’t have a chance in hell of ever becoming anywhere near whole again the way the system has been created here in California. And I’m sure that is just as bad in many other states around the country. Why, you ask? Well let’s see if you can stomach the realities of what every injured worker faces:
- The employer gets away scott free and has no civil liability even if his or her gross negligence caused the injury to their employee. They call it the “Exclusive Remedy”, and it’s exclusive alright; it provides them a shield from civil litigation and forces employees into a system that is simply weighted against workers!
- The insurers and their defense attorneys and doc-in-the-box doctors can pretty much say anything they want, literally lie thru their teeth, and make false statements without any fear of recrimination. They call it “Litigation Privilege.” Any mistakes that an employee might make are referred to the local District Attorney for fraud prosecutions.
- In many cases the DA’s are on the receiving end of fraud fighting funds that are handed out each year by the Department of Insurance and some of these DA’s have in the past crossed over the line of honesty and decency to obtain successful prosecutions so that their share of the Fraud Assessment Commission funds are as large as possible. And you thought they were there to protect you? Think Again!
If the employers and insurers want a real reform, I’m sure that injured workers, their advocates, treating doctors and others in this system that doesn’t consider the injured worker a “stakeholder” would welcome the opportunity to sit down and help create a system that really does what it’s name implies: adequately compensate workers for their occupational injuries, not throw some chump change at them and eventually dump them on the trash heap of society like they have been doing for so many years.
As a retired union sheet metal worker I am really embarrassed that the California Labor Federation has gotten behind this fiasco. Maybe it’s time for California workers to distance themselves.
Sam Gold is a California injured worker and creator of the Injured Workers Television Network, a state-of-the-art, network quality, internet based television network.