According to a report from Bloomberg Law, nurses are continuing to push for more comprehensive workers’ compensation rights. With backing from top labor advocacy groups, the coalition of nurses wants legal rights that put them in the same position—eligible for a presumption of coverage for certain injuries and illnesses—that law enforcement officers and firefighters receive. In this article, our Fresno workers’ comp lawyer discusses the workers’ compensation reform effort being pursued by nurses in California.
In California, police officers are covered by the so-called ‘duty-belt presumption.’ Under California Labor Code § 3213.2, lower back injuries suffered by police officers are presumed to be work-related injuries. To deny coverage for a back injury, an employer/insurer is required to provide evidence that “rebuts” that presumption. In practice, the presumption makes it easier for law enforcement officers to get workers’ comp benefits for lower back injuries. To be clear, not all injuries suffered by police officers are presumed to be job-related for the purposes of workers’ compensation. The presumption only applies to certain conditions, such as lower back injuries.
In February, lawmakers in the California State Senate voted in favor of Senate Bill 213 (SB-213). As currently drafted, SB-213 would extend a very similar workers’ comp presumption to many hospital staff members, particularly nurses. More specifically, the workers’ comp reform law would create a rebuttable presumption that the following three conditions are work-related in nurses:
- Lower-back pain;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and
- Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
One Step Down, Two Steps to Go to Become Law
SB 213 passed the California Senate in February with a sizable majority. The bill is not currently sitting in the California State Assembly. To become valid law in California, the bill must pass through the State Assembly and get the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom (or advance with a veto-proof majority). Thus far, Governor Newsom has declined to take a public position on the legislative effort pushing for enhanced workers’ comp rights for nurses.
The stakes are high. California has more than 400,000 registered nurses who could potentially be affected by the legislation. In its report, Bloomberg Law estimates that the bill could cost as much as $1 billion per year in additional workers’ compensation costs for hospitals. Our Fresno, CA workers’ compensation team will keep a close watch on SB 213 and all other legal developments that could impact the rights and interests of our clients.
Joseph C. Yrulegui is a top-rated, highly experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. If you are a nurse or nursing professional who was hurt on the job, we are here to help. Call us now or connect with us online to set up your confidential appointment. We represent injured workers throughout Fresno County, including in Fresno, Reedley, Sanger, Clovis, and Kingsburg.