In California, worker’s compensation records—including settlements—are public record, but there are laws protecting information located in a case file from being made open to the public for just any reason.
Section 5501.5 of the California Public Records Act specifically excludes WC case information from being accessed by anyone who is not a party to the case.
The act says that “Individually identifiable information shall not be provided to any person or public or private entity who is not a party to the claim unless that person identifies himself or herself or that public or private entity identifies itself and states the reason for making the request.”
The public records law does allow for limited access for certain purposes, and a search request can be made to a Local Records Coordinator
Who can Access?
Anyone can request case information, but the record coordinator can deny the request if it would violate California or federal privacy laws. The bottom line is any personally identifying information is protected from public dissemination and must be for a legitimate purpose.
The address of the claimant is specifically protected, except that some persons or government agencies can request for legitimate purposes, they are:
- Any party to the claim
- Law enforcement agencies,
- Office of district attorney
- Any person for a journalistic purpose.
When making these requests, person seeking the information must submit a legitimate reason for the information related to their agency or person. If the reason is insufficient, then the request can be denied.
What About Employers?
Many times, the party to the case doesn’t want their medical information given to a prospective employer. If an employer wants to gain information about the person as part of a employment screening, this is allowed if properly requested, however, the information comes with a warning:
“IT MAY BE A VIOLATION OF FEDERAL AND STATE LAW TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST A JOB APPLICANT BECAUSE THE APPLICANT HAS FILED A CLAIM FOR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS.”
Contact a Sacramento Worker’s Compensation Attorney
If you have questions about any aspect of a worker’s compensation injury or claim, contact the attorneys at the Law Office of Alice A. Strömbom. We can help you make an injury claim, or get you’re your back wages or medical bills paid if the WC insurance company is refusing.