Those men and women who serve as police officers here in the state of California deserve our utmost appreciation for their hard and dangerous work. In fact, it's important to understand that due to the inherently strenuous nature of their job, many of these police officers are susceptible to a multitude of serious and altogether debilitating work injuries.
A few weeks ago, we discussed how thousands of former professional athletes have been filing work comp claims in California since the 1980s despite having ever played only a few games here.
The state of California is very serious when it comes to employers and their legal obligation to maintain workers' compensation insurance coverage. To illustrate, those employers found to be lacking valid work comp coverage are viewed as uninsured and subject to not only a "Stop Notice and Penalty Assessment" from the California Labor Commissioner, but fines of $1,500 per employee (up to a maximum of $100,000).
Nearly 100 years ago, the state of California established its workers' compensation system in an attempt to provide much-needed support to those who suffered serious work injuries. While the system has, of course, undergone a major transformation since the early 1900s -- evolving into a $12 billion industry -- it's underlying principle has remained the same: any person employed in California for any period of time may seek benefits to cover their medical expenses and work-related disabilities.
The California State Assembly and State Senate made history last year when they passed Senate Bill 863 on the last day of the legislative session. The bill marked the first time since 2004 that state lawmakers choose to initiate a massive overhaul of the state's billion dollar work comp system.
Every day, hundreds of thousands of employers here in California and across the United States lose significant amounts of money because of serious workplace injuries. But how much money are they losing exactly? Believe it or not, it can sometimes be difficult to find comprehensive statistics reflecting the true costs of these workplace injuries.
Uninsured employers, meaning those who fail to carry the necessary amount of workers' compensation coverage in the state of California, face a multitude of penalties from steep fines and the loss of a professional license to possible incarceration.
Workers' compensation fraud is a very serious matter. Employers can suffer great harm when their employees engage in such fraud. No employer should have to be subjected to such wrongful conduct.
In general, if an employee of the state of California suffers a serious injury or illness that leaves them unable to perform their duties for a permanent or undetermined duration, they may apply for monthly disability retirement or industrial disability retirement benefits via the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS).
Last February, the California Workers' Compensation Institute announced that it would be releasing so-called "Industry Score Cards" over the course of the next few years.