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Proposed law designed to help nurses get workers’ compensation benefits

Nurses do a great service for the community every day, but they put themselves at tremendous risk when taking care of their patients. In fact, during the course of their daily work, nurses are at risk of contracting a number of blood-borne diseases, as well as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. MRSA is the most dangerous staph infection that can be contracted in hospitals, in part because of its resistance to antibiotics.

In order to make it easier for nurses in California to get the care they need after contracting illnesses on the job, state legislators introduced a bill, AB 1994, to extend workers' compensation benefits.

How the proposed law would help nurses

Under AB 1994, nurses who contract infectious diseases, or suffer neck and back injuries, on the job will be provided with "rebuttable presumptions" - meaning that they can automatically receive workers' compensation for these illnesses, unless their employer proves the injuries did not occur because of work. The "rebuttable presumptions" are already available to police officers and firefighters in California when they suffer from certain illnesses while they are on the job.

If this proposed laws passes, nurses who suffer these injuries from their jobs will be eligible to receive full medical benefits for their treatment, as well as temporary or permanent disability payments when they are unable to work because of their condition.

Pros and cons of AB 1994

Supporters of AB 1994, such as the California Nurses Association and the California Labor Federation, say that making it easier for nurses to receive workers' compensation is fair because of the risks that they take every day as they treat patients.

On the other hand, those who oppose the legislation say that implementing it will be extremely expensive: It is estimated that if this law passes, it will cost California hospitals between $250 million and $500 million annually - and these significant costs will be passed onto patients. In addition, detractors say that because this law would apply to nurses who work in private hospitals, if it is passed it will open the floodgates to similar workers' compensation claims from all nonpublic employees - which may risk additional expense.

If you have been injured on the job

If you have been injured on the job, contact a qualified personal injury attorney to identify your rights and what steps you can take to get the compensation you deserve. Trying to receive workers' compensation can be a complicated process, so having legal help by your side can go a long way toward mak ing a claim successful.

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