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Work-related injury case a groundbreaker in California policy

A long-time California victims' compensation policy that had been overturned only a few months ago had the first of certain cases of work-related injury to be approved by the board. The cases were claimed by prostitutes who had been raped while on the job. Many people feel it is time to reverse the long-held policy because there is often a factor of coercion in the sex industry; therefore those involved have the right to assistance when they sustain a work-related injury.

There were 14 women who brought cases before the board. Most of them had been raped in hotel rooms or in cars while on the job. As the women have not submitted financial damages amounts, a reimbursement sum has not been set. There is an award limit of $62,000 per case although most cases are generally granted around $2,000. Award money comes from penalties paid by offenders in criminal cases and through federal funds.

Even though California was the first state to advocate a program giving rights to victims of violent crimes, it was also the only state to deny compensation to those in the sex industry. Prostitutes were previously unable to receive victims' benefits because their job was considered illegal. For that reason, the board had rejected 28 claims just last year. They will now review formerly denied claims to see if they meet the requirements for benefits.

There is potential for a work-related injury in every job, even those who are primarily sedentary. Receiving benefits is a right all employees should have. California residents who have sustained injuries while on the job should review state laws for details on the benefits available.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, California agrees to compensate 14 raped sex workers, Don Thompson, Mar. 21, 2014

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Making a false or fraudulent workers’ compensation claim is a felony subject to 5 years in prison or up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

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