Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill intended to reduce workers' compensation costs for California businesses while increasing benefits to injured workers.
Brown was at Diego and Son, a Barrio Logan printing company, on Tuesday to promote the legislation, which supporters say will make the workers' compensation insurance system more efficient.
Something Johnny Swanson with San Diego Iron Workers, Local 229 says is needed. He shared what it was like to deal with workers’ compensation requests when he was recently badly injured on the job.
"Just having to go around, running around to different doctors, trying to get approval for this and approval for that, and it was just (pause) I didn't make any money for that whole year," Swanson said.
Another iron worker echoed Swanson’s concerns.
"If I do get injured I don't want to have to worry, like I've seen some of my co-workers go through, and waiting a long time to get money taken care of,” said Odie Miller.
Brown said all that will change. "In this worker's compensation reform, we're saving hundreds of millions of dollars for business, we're getting workers back to work faster, we're getting them the kind of medical care they need that's appropriate," he said.
Brown's office says changes were needed because the cost of insurance has risen from $14.8 billion to $19 billion in the past two years according to the Associated Press.
SB863 will increase benefits to permanently disabled workers by $860 million a year while giving employers a break on insurance costs.
Some attorneys who represent injured workers say the bill limits litigation, which could mean fewer benefits for their clients.
Iron workers told NBC 7 San Diego that they hope the time between getting hurt and getting help decreases.
"I'm kind of right now optimistic about it, but then again we'll have to see what happens," said Swanson.