Injured Workers Advocates Call for Attention to Working Women’s Injury Rates;
End to Constant Delays and Denials of Medical Care; Insurance Carrier Malfeasance
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546, Steve@hopcraft.com; Twitter: @shopcraft
SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA) Women’s Caucus, whose members represent Californians injured on the job, today called for a focus on work injuries common to women and identification of solutions. “As the percentage of women in the workforce has steadily increased, and as more women have taken on jobs that are traditionally held by men, the risk of injury to working women has also increased,” said CAAA Women’s Caucus Co-Chair Lauren Belger. “Women generally have more work-related cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, respiratory diseases, infectious and parasitic disease, and anxiety and stress disorders.”
CAAA cited research documenting that women performing the same job as men are up to 150% more likely to be injured doing that job. Work injury risk to women increases as they age, while men’s risk decreases. CAAA called for closer examination of working women’s job-related injuries and called on all stakeholders to identify ways or reducing women’s on-the-job injury rates.
CAAA also called attention to the refusal of insurance carriers to provide medical care, even when ordered by a judge to do so. “The WCAB decision in Romano v. Kroger ordering an audit of Sedgwick Claims Management Services for its persistent defiance of a judge’s order to provide care for a patient who subsequently died shows the need for stronger penalties for carrier malfeasance,” said CAAA President Larry Stern. “Why is it not criminal when workers’ compensation insurance companies kill patients through delaying and denying medical care? When a drunk driver kills a pedestrian, it’s manslaughter. When a physician overprescribes painkillers and the patient dies, it’s criminal. But when a workers’ compensation insurance carrier acts the same way, it’s not criminal.
Charles Romano injured his back stocking shelves for Ralph’s Grocery in Camarillo. After surgery, Charles contracted a highly resistant staph infection that attacked his lungs, kidneys and paralyzed him. Sedgwick refused to pay for Charles’ care for the infection, saying it was unrelated. Even after a judge determined the infection was a result of the surgery, the insurance carrier continued to refuse care. Charles soon died.
The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) found that Sedgwick Claims Management Service, a third party claims administrator, defied a judge’s order to provide needed medical care. Sedgwick faces a relatively small monetary penalty, which means little to a huge corporation. “Why is there no criminal sanction for defying a judge’s order that results in the death of a patient?” asked Stern.
CAAA members also sought support for passage of AB 454 (Dickinson) a CAAA-sponsored measure to ensure that prevailing wage rates are used when workers are injured worker under prevailing wage contracts, even if a subcontractor is illegally paying less than the prevailing wage.
For more information, visit: www.caaa.org
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