Audits point to faltering workers' compensation system

Readers may remember that former City Controller Wendy Greuel was critical of the workers' compensation spending and policies of the City of Los Angeles after conducting a review last year. Well, that criticism was recently echoed in two recent audits led by current City Controller Ron Galperin.

According to the new audits, the City of Los Angeles not only processes more workers' compensation claims, but spends more on those claims than other California cities. In 2013, a total of 17 claims were processed per 100 workers. Compare that to the overall number of 11 claims per 100 workers county-wide and the 12 claims per 100 workers in San Francisco.

Part of the problem, the audits showed, lies with claims management vendors, who sometimes make overpayments or fail to interview employers as to whether the injury is work-related before approving a claim, both of which can lead to unnecessary spending.

This, of course, is concerning not only from the perspective of public spending, but also from the perspective of ensuring the integrity of the process from for injured workers. Although the suggestion from public officials is that spending is skewed in favor of approving claims and spending money on injured workers, there is no guarantee that a broken system is going to ensure justice for all injured workers.

Workers who don't receive what is due to them, whether because of oversights by those running the workers' compensation system or because of the illegal actions of employers, need to understand their right to seek legal relief. Working with an experienced attorney is important, and will ensure one's rights are protected.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "L.A. workers' comp costs higher than in some other cities," Jack Dolan, July 1, 2014.