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BENEFITS & COMPENSATION

In what is known as the "compensation bargain," California's workers traded the right to sue an employer for damages in the tort or civil law system for benefits in a "no-fault" administrative law system. In 1911, California first provided for voluntary workers' compensation disability benefits (Roseberry Act). Then in 1913 a compulsory act was enacted (Boynton Act).  The Workman's Compensation Insurance and Safety Act of 1917 established the basic workers' compensation law. There have been many changes since then but the basic benefits remain.

These benefits are temporary and permanent disability; payments to dependents and burial allowance in the event of death; medical treatment; and a supplemental job displacement benefit (if date of injury is on or after 1/1/04).

The benefit delivery system is supposed to work "expeditiously, inexpensively, and without incumbrance of any character." The Constitutional mandate has lofty goals. Unfortunately the system is often mired in governmental micro-management, red tape and bureaucracy, and procedural technicalities which elevate form over substance. Every so often reform legislation is enacted seeking to simplify the system, making it even more complicated.
 
"In California as elsewhere a compensation award consists of a money payment and medical care. ...The purpose of the award is not to make the employee whole for the loss which he has suffered but to prevent him and his dependents from becoming public charges during the period of his disability....In short the award transfers a portion of the loss suffered by the disabled employee from him and his dependents to the consuming public....Complete protection is not afforded the employee from disability because this would constitute an invitation to malinger or to be careless on  the job as he would then lose nothing in assuming a disabled status." West v. IAC (1947) 79 Cal. App. 2d 711 (citations omitted).

The employer is required to send Benefit Notices; claims administrator’s duties and responsibilities.

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Magazine Articles The Metamorphosis of California's Workers’ Compensation System: The Editor’s Rant on Reforms by Marjory Harris, Esq. Metamorphosis of California's WC
 
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