Barstow Workers' Compensation Attorney
Workplace injuries are alarmingly common throughout the US, and sustaining an injury on the job can be a life-changing experience. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports around 2.5 million nonfatal work-related injuries each year. While these injuries can occur in virtually any industry and take many forms, the most common involve slip-and-falls, being struck by or caught between moving objects, vehicles, and heavy machinery, and injuries resulting from repetitive stress or overexertion. Thankfully, California’s workers’ compensation system allows injured workers to recover expenses they incur due to their injuries. These expenses can include medical expenses, lost wages in the form of temporary or permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits for vocational rehabilitation and training, and other financial losses.
If you were injured on the job, a Barstow workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand the law, navigate the system, and advocate on your behalf during the entire process. Learn more about workers’ compensation by reviewing the information below, then contact Kampf, Schiavone & Associates today to speak with our team. For over three decades, our attorneys have successfully represented injured workers throughout California, and we can help you achieve the optimal outcome in your case.
Do I Need aWorkers Comp Attorney?
Workers’ compensation can be an incredibly valuable system for injured workers, but the laws governing this system can be difficult to interpret without legal assistance. You must meet certain eligibility requirements, prove that your injury was work-related, calculate the specific damages you incurred, and accurately file your claim within a specific statute of limitations. Even when your claim is valid, making seemingly minor mistakes or missing deadlines can result in the denial of your claim. A Barstow workers’ compensation attorney can protect your rights, gather evidence to support your claim, negotiate with your employer’s insurance company, and litigate your case in court if necessary. An attorney can also help you recover the maximum compensation award. Research shows that workers’ comp claimants with attorneys receive a settlement three times larger than those without attorneys.
Can You Sue for Workers Comp and Personal Injury?
The workers’ compensation system was designed to serve both workers and employers by providing specific benefits to workers who sustain workplace injuries and protecting employers from liability in personal injury claims. In California, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. Under this system, injured workers are legally entitled to recover compensation for medical expenses and lost income if they sustain an injury or illness on the job or while performing work-related duties, even if their own behavior contributed to the injury-causing accident. Unlike in personal injury cases, injured workers do not have to prove that their employer was negligent to recover workers’ compensation. In exchange, they surrender the right to file a personal injury claim against their employer in court.
However, in some cases, you may be able to file a claim outside of the workers’ compensation to recover compensation for damages caused by your workplace injury. Examples include:
- Failure to Carry Workers’ Compensation Coverage – If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation coverage but is legally obligated to do so, call our firm. You may be able to file a personal injury claim in civil court or obtain compensation from a state fund.
- Employer Negligence – If your injury occurred due to your employer’s intentional or negligent conduct, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against them. This includes cases where the employer knowingly and deliberately caused your injury or cases where they showed gross negligence (such as allowing hazardous work conditions to continue without addressing them) and you sustained the injury as a result.
- Defective Products – You need legal help if you are injured by a machine or a piece of equipment that failed to work properly, was defective, or was inherently dangerous. If the manufacturer knew about the danger but failed to warn you or your business, then it could affect your settlement.You may be able to hold the manufacturer responsible for your damages. If the defective machine or equipment was manufactured by your employer, you may be able to file a product liability claim against your employer.
- Toxic Substances – Asbestos, silica, radium, benzene, and chromium compounds are a few substances workers use that can cause serious injury and illness. If you have been injured or made ill by a toxic substance, whether the effects are immediate or take years to manifest, you have legal recourse. You can file a claim against the manufacturer of the substance and manufacturers of safety equipment that was ineffective in protecting you while you handled the substance.
- Third-Party Liability – If the intentional or negligent conduct of a third party caused your workplace injury, you may be able to file a claim against that party. For example, if you drive a car on public roadways as part of your work duties and are involved in an accident, third-party liability may be a factor. When the incident is due to the actions of another driver, you may be able to file a claim against the driver to secure compensation from their insurance company.
Am I Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
California workers’ compensation law mandates four basic eligibility requirements for injured workers to recover damages for a workplace injury:
- Your employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Unlike in other states that set a minimum number of employees for businesses to carry workers’ comp coverage, California requires that all businesses provide workers’ compensation insurance, even if they only employ one worker.
- You must be an employee.
Not all workers are considered employees for the purposes of workers’ compensation. Part-time, full-time, seasonal, and agricultural workers are eligible for workers’ compensation in California, regardless of immigration status. However, the following types of workers are exempt from this system: independent contractors, certain business owners/sole proprietors, certain volunteers, domestic workers who are related to their employers, individuals who work for aid (food, housing, etc.) instead of pay, deputy sheriffs, deputy clerks, and students or officials participating in amateur sporting events.
- Your injury or illness must be work-related.
You must be able to prove that your injury arose out of employment and occurred during the court of employment, meaning you were on the worksite or performing a task for the benefit of your employer. Injuries are not considered work-related in certain situations. If injuries occur during lunch breaks, company social events, while workers violate workplace safety rules, committing a crime, or purposefully trying to hurt themselves or others, their injuries will likely not be covered. Injuries sustained while commuting to or from work are usually not considered work-related. Exceptions include when the worker is driving a company vehicle, traveling on a business trip, or performing errands on behalf of their employer. Workers who are required to use their personal vehicles for business use or who regularly travel for work and do not have a fixed worksite may be able to claim their injuries as work-related.
- You must meet California’s deadlines for reporting the workplace injury and filing the workers’ compensation claim.
You must report your workplace injury to your employer within 30 days after sustaining the injury; then, your employer will provide you with a workers’ compensation claim form. In this claim, you must provide evidence of your injury, explain the chain of events that led to the injury-causing accident, and prove that the injury occurred while performing job-related duties. You must include medical documentation from an approved healthcare provider that specifies the nature and extent of your injuries and shows that they were sustained due to your occupation or specific duties. Your claim will be directed to your employer’s insurance company, and they must provide up to $10,000 worth of medical care until they decide to approve or deny your claim. If your claim is not denied within 90 days after filing, you can consider your claim to be approved.
What Injuries and Illnesses Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation covers the following injuries and illnesses:
- Traumatic injuries resulting from a single accident, such as a spinal cord injury from a fall or a traumatic brain injury from being struck by machinery.
- Cumulative trauma injuries resulting from repetitive strain or motion, including back pain from frequently bending, reaching, twisting, pushing, pulling, or holding an uncomfortable position for extended periods of time.
- Occupational illnesses or diseases caused by workplace exposure include hearing loss from constant loud noise or respiratory conditions, skin diseases, or poisoning caused by exposure to chemicals or other toxic substances.
- Psychiatric injuries, which refer to emotional or psychological conditions that required medical treatment or led to disability and were predominantly caused by working conditions or events of employment, including workplace violence.
- Death caused by a work-related injury or illness.
What Benefits Can I Recover?
A Barstow workers’ compensation attorney can help you recover:
- Medical Benefits – Medical benefits refer to any expenses for current medical treatment or continuing care necessary to fix the injury or alleviate its symptoms and allow the worker to reenter the workforce. Examples of medical benefits include medical procedures, surgeries, physical therapy, medication, assistive devices, and travel to and from doctors’ appointments.
- Temporary Disability Benefits – For any injury or illness that requires an injured worker to miss at least three days of work to seek treatment or requires hospitalization, temporary disability benefits provide up to two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly earnings for up to two years. These benefits can vary. Some are partial, meaning the worker will eventually make a full recovery and return to their previous position. Others are total, meaning they cannot return to the job they held before the injury or another job they were previously capable of performing.
- Permanent Disability Benefits – If a worker sustains an injury that causes a long-term or life-altering impairment even after making a full recovery, they can recover permanent disability benefits based on their percentage of disability, age, and occupation. These benefits are paid over a specific period or until the worker receives a total dollar amount.
- Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits – When temporary or permanent disability prevents an injured worker from returning to the same job they held or industry they worked in before the injury, they can receive up to $10,000 worth of job rehabilitation and retraining to learn new skills and obtain employment at a different company.
- Death Benefits – If a worker dies due to their work-related injury or illness, their surviving spouse, children, and other dependents can recover death benefits on their behalf to pay for funeral costs and medical expenses for treatment. The total amount depends on the number of qualifying dependents and is usually paid in installments.
How Much Does a Workers Compensation Attorney Cost?
In California, worker’s compensation attorneys charge clients on a “contingency fee” basis for their services, meaning you only pay for representation if the attorney wins your case. When your attorney has successfully negotiated a settlement or secured an award after a hearing, your lawyer will calculate a reasonable fee for their services and submit this amount to the judge for approval. To determine if the proposed fee is reasonable, the judge will consider several factors, including the complexity of your case, the amount of time and effort required, and the results your attorney achieved.
In most cases, a Barstow workers’ compensation attorney will receive a fee that ranges from 9% to 12% of the value of your compensation amount. Relatively straightforward cases may cost less than 9%, while cases that involve detailed investigations, complicated legal issues, or multiple employers may justify attorney fees up to 15%.
We Can Fight for Compensation While You Focus on Recovery
With mounting medical bills and lost income, you need legal representation to ensure you have the best chance of securing the maximum compensation award for your injury. At Kampf, Schiavone & Associates, our Barstow workers’ compensation lawyers provide dedicated, comprehensive legal representation to injured California workers. Keep in mind that the defense, your employer’s insurance company, is motivated to offer the lowest possible settlement amount. If they attempt to minimize your injury, reduce your damages, or refuse to approve your claim, you need a legal professional on your side to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. Our law firm can guide you through the claims process and deliver the optimal outcome in your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.