California has some of the strictest and most comprehensive labor laws in the country. There are many workplace protections for employees to prevent their rights from being wrongfully infringed upon by their employers, and they offer legal recourse when employers violate these rights. If you are injured on the job, you have the right to apply for workers’ compensation to cover the expenses you incur due to your work-related injuries. However, this system can be complex and challenging to navigate, and the laws are constantly changing. The only way to guarantee you can recover fair compensation for your injuries is to secure legal representation from a workers’ compensation attorney.
Review the following to learn more about workers’ compensation in California, then contact Kampf, Schiavone & Associates today to discuss your case.
Workers’ Compensation System Helps Injured Employees
According to California labor law, all workers have the right to a safe working environment. Employers are legally obligated to protect employees from sustaining an injury or illness by performing regular inspections to identify hazardous conditions and promptly correcting any hazards or unsafe situations to avoid causing harm. In addition, all employees have the right to report unsafe working conditions to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and, in some cases, to refuse to perform work if they reasonably believe a task could cause serious bodily injury or death without fear of being fired for doing so.
To prepare for such incidents, most employers must pay into the state’s workers’ compensation system, which functions similarly to an insurance program. In addition, if an employee sustains an injury on the job or while performing work-related tasks, this system provides medical treatment, disability, and a supplemental job displacement benefits to help them afford their expenses while they heal and re-enter the workforce after making a full recovery.
California operates on a “no-fault” system, meaning an injured worker can recover compensation even if their behavior contributed to the injury-causing accident. All employees are eligible for workers’ compensation, regardless of immigration status or whether they work part-time or seasonally. However, independent contractors are exempt from this system because they are technically self-employed.
How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
After you sustain a work-related injury or illness and report it to your supervisor, they must provide you with a workers’ compensation claim form within one working day of reporting the injury. Fill out the “employee” section of the form, sign and date it, make a copy for your records, then send the original to your employer right away. You can deliver it to them in person or by mail, but if you decide to mail the form, use certified mail that requests a return receipt, so you have evidence showing when it was mailed and received.
Then, your employer fills out the “employer” section of the form, makes a copy of the completed claim to give you, and forwards the original to their insurance company. Your employer must authorize medical treatment for your injury within one day of you filing the claim. During the time in which your employer is determining whether to accept or reject your claim, you are authorized to receive up to $10,000 in medical care for your injury.
In most cases, the insurance company has 14 days to respond with a letter informing you of your claim’s status. If you don’t receive this letter, call them to ask for an update. Your employer or the claims administrator should contact you within 90 days after providing your employer with the claim form to tell you whether your claim has been accepted or rejected. If you filed a claim and your employer does not deny it within 90 days, this means your injury is presumed to be covered under the workers’ compensation system. If your claim was denied, you have the right to contest this decision.
What Benefits Does Workers’ Compensation Provide?
If you have a valid workers’ compensation claim, you can recover the following benefits:
- Medical benefits, including hospital bills, doctor bills, surgeries, physical therapy, prescription medication, and assistive devices.
- Total temporary disability benefits if your injury prevents you from performing any work over a specific period of time due to medical restrictions.
- Temporary partial disability benefits if your injury impacts your ability to perform certain work tasks. It requires your employer to accommodate you with certain restrictions or conditions, and does not prevent you from working.
- Permanent disability benefits if you are no longer able to work, and your injury has permanently limited the type of work you can perform.
- Supplemental job displacement benefits in the form of vouchers to help you obtain job training if your injury prevents you from returning to your previous position or industry.
- Death benefits provided to your spouse, children, and other dependents if your workplace injury causes your death.
What Should I Do If I Get Hurt at Work?
- Notify your supervisor immediately. Even seemingly minor injuries can be more severe than they appear, and you may not experience the full effects of an injury until later, so it is essential to report the injury. If your injury or illness appears gradually, report it when your symptoms become severe. Follow your company’s required procedures for officially reporting the incident and request a copy of all written documentation related to the accident or injury.
- Seek medical attention. Promptly visiting a doctor for medical treatment is crucial for obtaining evidence of your injury and recovering workers’ compensation benefits. If you require emergency treatment, take this step first, letting the medical staff know you sustained the injury at work and then contacting your supervisor when you can safely do so.
- Contact a workers’ compensation attorney. Even simple mistakes can significantly reduce your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve. Working with an attorney specializing in workers’ compensation ensures you complete all steps completely, accurately, and within the required time frame.
Get Help With Your Workers’ Comp Claim
If you were injured on the job or your spouse died due to sustaining a work-related injury, you are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits under California’s labor laws. While you may be able to handle the claims process on your own, a workers’ compensation attorney can be an incredibly valuable asset, especially if any complicated issues arise. For example, suppose your employer’s insurance company rejects your claim or offers insufficient benefits to cover your expenses. In that case, you must take legal action immediately to obtain the maximum compensation you need to support your family while you heal from your injury.
Contact Kampf, Schiavone & Associates today to speak with us about your claim. Our team of experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can protect your rights, preserve your interests, help streamline the claims process, and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve. We can also initiate legal action against your employer if they retaliate against you for filing a claim by forcing you to use paid vacation time during your recovery, creating a hostile working environment, demoting you, reducing your salary, firing you, or refusing to rehire you after you make a full recovery.