Workers’ compensation claims increase in California

While most other states have seen workers’ compensation filings drop, California is experience an increase in these claims.

Employers in California always have good reason to be concerned about the costs and impact of workers' compensation. Now it appears there may be even more reason for concern. According to Business Insurance, the state has experienced a hike in the number of claims being filed.

California's experience different from rest of country

Data from the California Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau shows that around much of the nation, there has been a drop in workers' comp claims by as much as 11 percent between 2010 and 2014. In contrast, the number of claims filed in California has risen by three percent.

It is also important to note that claims involving cumulative injuries have increased. These claims involve cases in which more than one part of the body has been injured.

A look at injury and illness numbers

According to 2014 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 265,000 workers were reported to have experienced illnesses or injuries that required them to miss work, to be transferred to different jobs, or to be placed on restrictions for work.

Potential reasons for increase in claims

There are a few reasons that could explain why California has seen growth in workers' compensation claims frequency when other states have seen a drop. For starters, the state has also seen a jump in hiring with more people going into jobs in industries known to be more hazardous than others. Examples include construction or manufacturing.

At the same time, there has also been an increase in the number of relatively inexperienced employees being hired. In 2010, roughly 41 percent of the state's labor force had less than two years of work experience. By 2015, half of all workers were noted to have less than two years of work experience. The lack of experience could increase the risk of accidents happening.

Real issues for employers

Because workers' compensation insurance is required for most companies, this rise in claim filings is important to watch. The California Department of Industrial Relations notes that even businesses with only one employee must carry appropriate insurance. Roofers are required to have coverage even if they do not have a single employee.

Employers can dispute employees' claims through the Division of Workers' Compensation Information and Assistance Unit. Other disputes can be taken up in front of a judge.

There are many challenges involved when trying to meet legal requirements, treat employees fairly, and prevent a company from being the victim of fraud. Working with an attorney who understands California's workers' compensation program and laws is recommended to help businesses protect themselves in these situations.