In September 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 1127 (SB 1127) into law. The bill amends several sections of the California Labor Code (3761, 4656, 5402, and 5414.3) and has important implications for workers’ compensation insurance, specifically regarding the available benefits for certain police officers and firefighters. The law officially took effect on January 1, 2023. It applies to injuries/illnesses that occur or arise after that date. Here, our California workers’ compensation defense attorney provides an overview of the three things to know about SB 1127.
Three Things that Employers and Insurers Should Know About SB 1127
- An Increase in the Maximum Duration of Workers’ Compensation Wage Replacement Benefits for Police/Firefighter Cancer Diagnosis
There is comprehensive research in place that shows that police officers and firefighters are at a higher risk of developing work-related cancer. California’s SB 1127 seeks to provide additional support to affected workers. Under the new law, the maximum duration of workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits for those diagnosed with cancer has been extended. Previously, the maximum time that a police officer or firefighter could obtain workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits for cancer was 104 weeks. Under the new law, work-related cancer wage replacement benefits are available for a maximum duration of 240 weeks. Employers should be aware of the change.
2. Reduction in Time for Employers to Deny Liability for Police/Firefighter Presumptive Claims
SB 1127 also addresses a significant concern in the workers’ compensation system by reducing the time employers have to deny liability for police and firefighter presumptive claims. In certain circumstances, a police officer or firefighter may presumptively qualify for workers’ compensation benefits based on the specific nature of their injury or illness. Previously, employers/insurance carriers in California had 90 days to deny liability in these claims. However, under SB 1127, employers now only have 75 days to reject these types of claims.
3. An Increase in Penalties for Unreasonable Rejection of Police/Firefighter Presumptive Claim
Finally, SB 1127 has also increased the penalties for the unreasonable rejection of police and firefighter presumptive claims. Employers need to be aware that they could face serious financial penalties if they are deemed to have unreasonably denied a workers’ compensation claim that qualifies for presumptive benefits. Notably, unlike the other provisions of SB 1127, this provision applies retroactively. Penalties will now be five times the amount that was unreasonably delayed due to an improper rejection of liability up to a maximum statutory penalty of $50,000.00.
Contact Our California Workers’ Compensation Defense Lawyers for Immediate Help
At Yrulegui & Roberts, our California workers’ compensation defense attorneys have the professional and legal experience you can rely on. If you have any questions about the workers’ compensation presumptions or SB 1127 more broadly, please do not hesitate to contact us online for a fully confidential consultation. Our firm handles cases in WCAB locations throughout Central California.