Justice for Injured Workers in California is Becoming More Unattainable

By Sam Gold
A California Injured Worker

I’m an injured worker and I’m writing this article not because I love attorneys, but because “You Have A Right To Know!” and no one else seems to want to tell you the truth! Workers’ Compensation around this country is not operating on a level playing field and here’s one of the reasons why! Part of the insurance industry’s 20 year plan to gain total control of the California Workers’ Compensation system (www.ciaw.org/the20yearplan.html) is to eliminate the only obstacle left in their goal of retaining 100% of every premium dollar paid; that of the injured workers’ legal advocate, the applicants’ attorney.

40% of every premium dollar paid just doesn’t seem to be enough for these greedy insurance companies!

These applicants’ attorneys are some upstanding human beings and incredibly brilliant legal minds who have forsaken other more lucrative disciplines of the law to help those who are at a distinct disadvantage, California’s occupationally injured workers, having been injured in the course of their employment, in many instances due to the negligence of their employers.

First, let’s set the record straight. If you wish to believe our totally clueless governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, they are greedy trial attorneys who are the proximate cause of the high cost of Workers’ Compensation in California.

Hogwash! That couldn’t be any further from the truth. That’s just a bunch of Schwarzenegger/Chamber of Commerce/Insurance Industry BS!

Unlike insurance company defense attorneys who are paid by the hour like a taxi meter, these applicants’ attorneys are paid at the close of each case, based upon a small percentage of a permanent disability award that is meant to compensate the injured worker for his inability to compete for a lifetime of meaningful employment in the workplace. And some of these cases can take up to 10 years to settle, with those attorneys having to pony up front, all the costs of the litigation for such an extended period of time.

So just precisely who has the financial incentive to make these cases drag on and on; not the applicants’ attorney! He or she doesn’t get paid until the case closes! Get the picture?

One of the big issues right now is the concept of “Apportionment to Causation” which is simply an insurance industry ploy to whittle down the amount of permanent disability settlement to a point where it becomes economically unfeasible for applicants’ attorneys to make a reasonable living taking these cases and representing their clients in an increasingly specialized and technical discipline of the law. They are literally fighting for their economic lives!

Many law firms, who at one time had up to 10 attorneys practicing Workers’ Compensation law, are now just down to one, and of those who are still practicing are getting very picky and choosy about what cases they do take, usually concentrating on those of catastrophic injuries.

What about those smaller cases. Who will be there to represent them in a legal system that takes injured workers and grinds them up to a pulp and spits them out?

This whole Workers Compensation system revolves around public perception, and it’s time that the public understood the gravity of this situation for what it really is, a public policy disaster in the making, not a bunch of Schwarzenegger/Chamber of Commerce/Insurance Industry PR spin meant to misinform them of the truth!

Sam Gold is an injured worker who created the first regularly scheduled television program on the California workers’ compensation system. Injured On The Job (www.injuredonthejob.tv) is produced at state-of-the-art video production facilities in San Francisco and Sacramento, and exposes that fraud and corruption in a manner that the television viewer can easily understand. He also maintains the web site Californians Injured at Work.