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Posted on 16 August 2005 by admin

Steelworker falls 50 feet, benefits cut by 79%

SACRAMENTO – today released the second Permanent Disability Horror Story in their 19-day campaign spotlighting injured California workers being harmed by the governor’s deep cuts in their permanent disability compensation. The “Permanent Disability Horror Story” campaign seeks to have the legislature and the governor agree to lessen the governor’s drastic reductions in the meager compensation injured workers receive. The legislative leaders promised to change the schedule during this year’s session. “These real Californians deserve better,” said Mark Hayes, president of, an injured workers’ advocacy group, “The governor promised that he would not harm truly injured workers. These workers are truly injured; there’s no dispute about that. And the governor’s cuts harm them deeply. This must be fixed. There are just 18 working days left for the Legislature and the governor to agree to change the Schwarzenegger Administration’s Permanent Disability Ratings Schedule (PDRS), which studies have shown make steep reductions in injured workers’ compensation. charges that the schedule “is inconsistent with SB 899, undermines the Legislature’s balanced approach to reform, and threatens to relegate thousands of workers to subsist on constitutionally inadequate benefits. We hope these human horror stories will help show the need for change.”

“My name is Gustavo Ortiz. I am 29, and I live in Salinas. I was born in Michoacan, Mexico, and have had a permit to work in California since 1995. My wife and I have one son, now 2 years old, who was born just 17 days before my injury at work.”

“On March 11, 2003, I was working as a steelworker for Earth Tech at Duke Energy’s Moss Landing facility. A coworker and I were using torches to cut steel while tearing down an oil tank. We were on the roof, up 50 feet in the air, when the roof collapsed and we fell to the ground. I injured my right wrist, arm and shoulder, and my left hip, among other body parts. I had multiple surgeries, including bone grafts in my shoulder. I will likely need more surgeries. I can barely lift my right arm and may need a cane to walk. I have been rated 97% disabled.

“Permanent disability compensation was supposed to replace my lost future earnings due to my injury’s long-term effects. It is also my ONLY compensation for my inability to do many everyday things, engage in recreation, and take part in and enjoy family and social outings. My compensation under Governor Schwarzenegger’s rating schedule is cut by more than 75 percent!”

Four studies, including one by the insurance industry’s own ratings bureau, have found the Schwarzenegger ratings reduce compensation to permanently disabled workers by more than half. One was conducted by a UC Davis Medical School professor; another by the State’s own Commission on Health, Safety and Welfare Compensation (CHSWC); yet another by an insurance defense expert; and the fourth from the insurance carriers’ own ratings bureau. In April, thousands of injured workers protested the takeaways from permanently disabled workers in the biggest-ever demonstration by injured workers. Originally adopted on January 1, 2005 under the governor’s emergency powers, the schedule recently became permanent. The Studies have consistently shown Schwarzenegger’s schedule will reduce permanent disability compensation by an average of 50% to 70%.

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