By Attorney Robert A. McLaughlin
As part of a long-standing tradition known as New Year's resolutions, people frequently consider the past year and create goals for the one to come. Here are some changes and initiatives I'd like to see the California Workers' Compensation system take in 2023.
Permanent Disability weekly rates based on real-life wages.
Permanent Disability (PD) was based on the concept it would be equal to two-thirds of an Injured Workers' average weekly wage. This has been the concept for PD since workers' compensation was first enacted In California in 1913.
However, unless you are 100% disabled (and very, very few are), your maximum PD rate is $290 a week for injuries on or after January 1, 2013. Using the two-thirds legal percentage, this means the State of California believes the average weekly wage of an Injured Worker is $435 a week.
The minimum wage in California in 2023 is $15.50 per hour. For a 40-hour work week, this translates to $620 a week.
Based on two-thirds of the California minimum wage, the PD maximum rate should be as least $413.33 a week. Even in 2013, this was a ridiculously low number.
Who can survive in California on $413.33 a week after taxes, payment of rent, car payments, food, and general expenses?
Answer: No one.
Temporary Total Disability is adjusted every year for the increase in the state's average weekly wage. But PD is not.
Let us see the California legislators who passed this arcane and unfair law at the behest of the insurance industry try and live in California on $290, $413.33, or even $620.00 a week.