Visiting California for the Workers’ Comp – Part 2 of 3
Yesterday we discussed the problem facing professional sports and California games – players seek California benefits after playing in California a few times as part of a multi-season career. This is a problem for any business that has prices reflecting non-California workers’ compensation costs.
This problem doesn’t only apply to professional athletes – they just get all the attention. The same law applies to traveling non-athlete employees. California hosts conferences. California hosts training seminars. California is just a nice place to visit. And often enough, if you’re looking for skilled talent, California can be a great place to send your agents to do some recruiting.
But while your employees are conferencing, training, visiting, or recruiting, they’re exposing you to liability under California’s workers’ compensation system. Are you prepared to pay Golden State rates after a lifetime of reasonable prices? Maybe you don’t have to.
Your hypnotically eloquent blogger may have worked you into a frenzy over the exploitation of employers and insurers nationwide by one-time California visits and the effect of subjecting non-California defendants to California workers’ compensation jurisdiction.
Put down the torches and pitchforks, take apart the guillotine, and please, please, please, stop holding your formerly favorite football star or conference speaker hostage – I assure you there is a better way!
California does jump the gun on claiming jurisdiction as often as possible for workers’ compensation matters, but Labor Code section 3600.5(b) provides a reprieve. As the law holds, California will not claim jurisdiction over a non-California employee injured in California, even if that injury is part of a cumulative trauma, if the following conditions are met:
- The employee is only “temporarily” in California;
- The employee is covered by extra-territorial insurance (meaning the policy applies to the worker even when he or she is out of the state in which he or she normally works);
- The laws of the state where the employee is normally employed are “similar” to those of California; and
- The state where the employee is normally employed has a reciprocity rule with California. In other words, California keeps its hands off state X, and state X keeps its hands of California employees injured in state X.
In an example contrary to the case mentioned in yesterday’s post, the recent panel opinion in the case of Vaughn Booker v. Cincinnati Bengals held that California did not have jurisdiction over a case in which Vaughn Booker played one game out of 48 in California.
Mr. Booker sought to invoke California’s workers’ compensation system to adjudicate his cumulative trauma claim. But the Bengals had done their homework, and the WCAB held that (1) applicant only temporarily worked in California; (2) Ohio and California have “similar” workers’ compensation laws; (3) Ohio’s laws cover applicant while he is working in California; and (4)Ohio has reciprocity with California in accordance with section 3600.5(b).
In other words, the Bengals escape to their home territory with their stripes very much intact.
So what can you do other than boycotting the State of California? Unless you’re willing to give up on medicinal marijuana, body-builder governors, and the nation’s largest concentration of happy cows, I suggest you come back tomorrow for Part 3 of 3.