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California makes workers' compensation changes for athletes

In an effort to further enhance its laws regarding the protection of its working class, the California legislature has recently passed measures to strengthen the rights of employees in their state. Many of the changes to current laws affecting employees went into effect at the beginning of the new year. Some fear the changes of workers' compensation policies will create an unfriendly business climate, but according to an official with the California Labor Federation, when it comes to the rights of employees, California has become a national leader.

California has sought to close a loophole in the workers' compensation law that has already cost the state more than a hundred million dollars. Before the changes, professional athletes who earned little to none of their income in California could file and potentially win a cumulative trauma workers' compensation claim. Under the revised law, professional athletes who play for teams not based in California lose the ability to make this claim, as a vast majority of their income comes from out-of-state.

While it may come as a blow to professional athletes who call California home, the funds from unresolved claims could potentially top a billion dollars. The money from the unresolved claims could be used to help pay for other workers' compensation claims. Some of the monies could help pay claims for agricultural and landscaping laborers.

Cumulative injuries are a serious consequence of working in certain fields. For those who work in physically demanding careers, like those of athletes or the agricultural and landscaping workers, it can alter the trajectory of one's career. Workers' compensation is to see the injured through the toughest times as they are on the road to recovery. The new laws of California seek to ensure that the employees of the state have their rights protected and that the laws act in their best interest.

Source: The Modesto Bee, New Calif. laws try to help employees, immigrants, Don Thompson, Dec. 28, 2013

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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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