Canadian Injured Workers Society



workers compensation Canadian Injured Workers Society for workers compensation reform

What's Wrong with Workers Compensation?

Injured Workers' Stories
About Us
Current Activities
Past Activities
Commissions & Reports
Law Court Decisions
Related Articles
Medical Professionals
Employees' Info
Employers' Info
Politicians' Info
Privacy and Copyright


Back to Article Index

March 2008

California Workers’ Compensation System Fails Those Who Die in Its Grasp

"If these criminal acts were performed anywhere else but in Arnold’s Workers Compensation system, those responsible would be thrown in jail so fast that it would make your head spin! "

By Sam Gold
A California Injured Worker

Where else can you kill a person outright, with your gross negligence and greed, and get away scott free without any fear of recrimination or criminal prosecution?

Why in California of course?

It’s called the Workers Compensation system, and this kind of aberrant behavior is facilitated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, his insurance buddy cronies and his so-called reforms of 2004. Many have died because of this quest for profits, to appease the needs of the corporate few.

Ask Kelley Sedam, formerly of Dinuba, California. She lost her husband Bob, who was a helicopter mechanic with Omni-Flite, whose services were contracted by the California Highway Patrol in Fresno, when AIG Insurance adamantly refused to allow her husband to be referred to a vascular specialist when he developed a blood clot in his shoulder that traveled to his lungs and ultimately killed him. They even denied him his blood thinning medication (Coumadin) for an extended period of time, and then had the audacity to deny his widow a death benefit after he succumbed to his injuries. She’s suing!

Ask Jamie Tracey whose husband David was refused psychiatric and pain management treatment for an acute case of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, despite the pleas of his treating doctor and attorney, which was the result of an injury with his employer Waste Management Inc. at a landfill site. He committed suicide! But she was one of the fortunate ones, she actually collected a death benefit. How does money make up for the love of a husband and partner, a death that could have been totally avoided, had the insurer’s third party administrator, Gallagher Bassett Services (one of the bad boys of Worker’s Comp.) just simply obeyed the law and it’s legislative intent? She left the state!

If these criminal acts were performed anywhere else but in Arnold’s Workers Compensation system, those responsible would be thrown in jail so fast that it would make your head spin! But so many of California employers and insurers hide behind something called the “Exclusive Remedy” that was part of a bargain made almost 100 years ago when the system was created by then Progressive Governor Hiram Johnson.

It is supposed to protect the employer from tort lawsuits in exchange for certain defined benefits, but in almost a century since it was enacted, the employers and their insurers have bastardized and convoluted the system into something that is totally unrecognizable, and what’s worse, have used their political and economic power to take away many parts of that agreement so that the worker gets very little in the form of benefits anymore.

“Quid Pro Quo”, which is Latin meaning “something for something” is certainly not the case anymore. The employers and insurers still enjoy all of the benefits of that historic social contract and the poor worker hasn’t a pot to p—s in. He can’t even choose a physician that he trusts to treat him unless he specifies it well ahead of time. It is so bad that the worker is left at a distinct disadvantage. So many occupational medicine doctors are so disgusted with what it has become, they refuse to treat Workers Comp. injuries anymore.

So just precisely what is this “Exclusive Remedy” supposed to do. Is it supposed to just indemnify the employer on the original injury itself or is it supposed to be a legal umbrella that will shield him from prosecution for any criminal acts committed against the injured worker “post injury”?

No one seems to know. Maybe it’s time that we had this issue defined so that we can deal with these corporate scofflaws and save one of our biggest assets, the Working Californian! After all, California and America were built on the backs of the working man. Don’t you think it’s time that he got a little help when he gets injured doing his job?

Even worse, if an injured worker has a stipulated Permanent Disability judgment where the insurer pays him in semi-monthly installments for a specified period of time, they can again delay and deny him treatment and medications despite a legal agreement to the contrary. Should he die due to their negligence, they have no legal responsibility to pay the balance of his award to his heirs or his estate.

Does this turn your stomach? It certainly turns mine! Such is the sleazy world of Workers Compensation in California.

Thanks Arnie….

Sam Gold is an injured worker who created the first regularly scheduled television program on the California workers' compensation system. Injured On The Job ( is produced at state-of-the-art video production facilities in San Francisco and Sacramento, and exposes that fraud and corruption in a manner that the television viewer can easily understand. He also maintains the web site Californians Injured at Work.

Back to Article Index