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State Proposes New Rules for Workers’ Comp Claims

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The Schwarzenegger administration has proposed a sweeping set of regulations aimed at revising how workers’ injuries are evaluated and their compensation is calculated.

The new regulations unveiled Thursday are a key element of the overhaul of the state’s workers’ compensation system approved by the Legislature last spring.

The proposed rules -- the shape of which has long been known -- call for the use of guidelines developed by the American Medical Assn. for measuring permanent disabilities. The administration also wants to employ a new formula for translating the degree of injury into dollars paid in compensation.

Union officials and worker advocates said the new regulations would reduce benefits for workers. Critics also complained that the public only had a few days to comment on the proposals before they were adopted.

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The Schwarzenegger administration “is making these cuts at a time when most people will not be paying attention,” said Art Pulaski, executive secretary treasurer of the California Labor Federation. “Injured workers deserve better than a weekend attack like this.

“If the governor is going make drastic cuts in their payments,” Pulaski added, “he should at least give them a chance to respond.”

The state Department of Industrial Relations sent the proposed new rules to the Office of Administrative Law, which has as long as 10 days to consider them.


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