The party responsible for paying work injury benefits is not always clear-cut —particularly if the claimant sustained their disability over multiple incidents. California created the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF) to encourage companies to hire workers who have pre-existing injuries and to ensure that disabled workers have access to the financial support they need.
In defending a workers’ compensation claim, it is important to recognize that this state fund could bear partial liability for an injured employee’s disability or impairment. In this article, our Bakersfield workers’ compensation defense attorneys offer a more comprehensive explanation of the key things employers and insurers should know about subsequent fund claims in California.
California Workers’ Compensation Law: Subsequent Injuries
The California Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF) offers financial compensation to injured employees who already had a pre-existing disability or impairment at the time of their workplace accident. Under California law (CA Labor Code Section 4751), an injured worker may be eligible for benefits through this fund only if the cumulative effect of their injuries have left them with a permanent disability rating of 70% or greater.
How Does the SIBTF Affect Employers in California?
The subsequent injury fund pays benefits to disabled workers. However, the SIBTF also has important implications for employers. No company wants to be on the hook for an injury or impairment that a worker already had before starting their employment. The SIBTF helps to ensure that employers and insurers are spared from the possibility of facing improper legal liability in a workers’ compensation claim.
Subsequent Injury Fund Could Bear Partial Responsibility for an Injured Worker
For employers, insurers, and workers’ compensation claims administrators, it is important to understand the role that the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF) could play in defending a workers’ compensation case. If a worker was injured on the job and their resulting disability or impairment is caused, at least partially, by a pre-existing condition, then California’s SIBTF may be partially responsible for paying benefits.
In other words, if you are facing a claim from an applicant who has a pre-existing injury/disability, it is always worth exploring whether or not the Subsequent Injury Fund should be liable for a portion of the total settlement. A workers’ compensation claim should be comprehensively investigated to determine the extent and cause of an applicant’s disability. As employers help to find the SIBTF, they are entitled to benefit from the liability protections it provides.
Call Our California Workers’ Compensation Defense Lawyers for Immediate Help
At Yrulegui & Roberts, our top-rated Fresno workers’ compensation defense advocates provide the highest level of professional representation to our clients. Should you have any questions about California’s Subsequent Injury Fund, we are more than ready to help. Contact us now to set up a fully confidential, no-obligation review of your case. With law office locations in Fresno, Bakersfield, and Sacramento, our attorneys offer workers’ compensation defense services throughout the region.