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Milena Velilla

Bill would ease the workers’ comp process for California nurses

On Behalf of | May 12, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

Those in the nursing profession are at increased risk of a number of injuries and illnesses unique to those who spend their days caring for others. Too often, however, they have a difficult time getting workers’ compensation benefits for those conditions.

A bill introduced in the California State Assembly would create what’s called a “rebuttable presumption” that nurses and other front-line hospital workers who are suffering from certain conditions are work-related and therefore eligible for workers’ compensation. That means the connection to their work is assumed and doesn’t need to be proven. These conditions would include respiratory and infectious diseases, musculoskeletal injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The legislation would help close a gender gap in workers’ comp access

The bill (AB 1156) was introduced by Assemblymember Mia Bonta. It’s got the support of the California Nurses Association (CNA). Assemblymember Bonta (who happens to be the wife of California Attorney General Rob Bonta) says she believes gender bias plays a role in what many believe is an unfair burden of proof.

She says, “Our frontline health care workers face a clear gender gap in presumptive access to worker’s compensation, simply because they are in a female-dominated profession. Simply put, there are certain injuries and illnesses that are presumed to be work-related for firefighters and police officers….Our healthcare heroes deserve the same presumption.” 

In addition to facing risks from sick patients and the strenuous work that’s required to move, lift and turn over patients, nurses are also the victims of violence from patients and their family members. Those in emergency rooms often must deal with gang feuds and other violence that follows an injured person in.

It could also help with the shortage of nurses in hospitals

Advocates for the bill say that in addition to doing what’s right, it can help with the dangerous trend of nurses leaving hospital work. The CNA president says, “Legislators who are serious about fixing the staffing crisis in California’s hospitals will quickly pass this legislation because it will make the decision to stay in the profession easier for skilled nurses.”

It remains to be seen what happens with this legislation. In the meantime, it’s crucial for all health care providers to get the workers’ compensation benefits to which they’re entitled for work-related injuries and illnesses. If you’re facing a claim denial, it may be wise to seek legal guidance.