In recent years, many states have expanded their workers’ compensation benefits to provide coverage for firefighters who get skin cancer due to working long hours under the sun. Lifeguards and police officers are also eligible for workers’ comp due to skin cancer diagnoses. On the coattails of these workers’ comp updates, California is also considering providing skin cancer-related workers’ compensation benefits to park rangers and game wardens in the state.
Assembly Bill 334 is designed to make it simpler for game wardens and park rangers to file for workers’ compensation after receiving a skin cancer diagnosis. If it passes, then such cases will be handled with a presumption that the claimant’s skin cancer was caused by their work because being a ranger or warden keeps them outside for most of the day. With a presumption such as this, the claimant does not need to prove that their skin cancer was caused by their work and, if the insurance company objects, then it must prove that it wasn’t. While this change might seem simple and small, it is actually a huge deal that can really change things for park rangers and game wardens throughout the state.
If an insurance company did want to fight a skin cancer claim filed by a ranger or warden, then it would need to present a convincing argument as to why the skin cancer originated from activities not related to their work. For example, the insurer would have to find a way to prove that the claimant spends most of their free time outside, too, which could conceivably contribute enough to the risk of skin cancer to muddle what caused it: work or leisure. How an insurer would even go about making that argument is difficult to imagine, though, so the legal update – if approved – would open the door widely for rangers and wardens to file claims without hindrance.
The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association and the California Fish & Game Warden Supervisors and Managers Association have each endorsed AB 334. However, insurance groups have predictably opposed the bill. The prevailing argument is that the bill is unnecessary because the vast majority of skin cancer workers’ compensation claims filed by outdoor workers like rangers are already accepted at a high rate, reportedly close to 90%.
To learn more about this developing story, you can click here to view a full article from The Sacramento Bee. If you need help filing a workers’ comp claim in Orange County, Newport Beach, Corona, or Bakersfield, then you can contact Alvandi Law Group, P.C. We help workers from all sorts of industries, careers, and walks of life.