California governor signs work injury insurance bill

SAN FRANCISCO Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:23pm EDT

California Governor Jerry Brown speaks at a news conference to announce the Public Employee Pension Reform Act of 2012 at Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles, California August 28, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

California Governor Jerry Brown speaks at a news conference to announce the Public Employee Pension Reform Act of 2012 at Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles, California August 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill on Tuesday that will increase disability benefits for workers injured on the job while reining in the rising cost of their workers' compensation insurance premiums.

Lawmakers approved the bill last month on the last day of their regular session after Brown personally appealed to them to support it.

The last time leaders of the most populous U.S. state had revised the workers' compensation system was in 2004 under then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The legislation signed by Brown had the support of labor and business groups. Lawyers who represent injured workers opposed the bill, which will curb lawsuits over injury claims.

With other changes, the bill is estimated to save California businesses $1 billion next year while freeing up funds to boost payments to disabled workers.

"These significant reforms save hundreds of millions of dollars for California's employers while preventing an imminent crisis of skyrocketing rates that would have hurt both injured workers and businesses," Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement after signing the bill.

(Reporting by Jim Christie; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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