Colton Workers' Compensation Attorney
If you suffer an injury at work, the workers’ compensation system can offer economic relief for your medical expenses and even weekly benefits when you are unable to work while you recover. Every California employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance, even if they have a single employee. If you or a family member recently suffered any type of injury at work, it is vital to know your rights and your legal options for recovering from your injury. A Colton workers’ compensation attorney can be an invaluable asset if you need to file for workers’ compensation or if you encounter any issues with your legitimate workers’ compensation claim.
While the workers’ compensation system exists to provide economic relief to injured employees, the system does not always work as intended. Unfortunately, not every employer will fulfill their legal obligations when it comes to facilitating their employees’ legitimate workers’ compensation claims. Whether you or a loved one recently encountered issues with your workers’ compensation claim or if you simply need assistance with filing your claim, the attorneys at Kampf, Schiavone & Associates can provide thorough, insightful legal counsel.
Filing for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Colton, CA
On paper, the process for filing for workers’ compensation benefits is simple. In practice, however, many injured employees have trouble completing their claims or encounter unexpected issues with the claims process.
California state law requires an employer to provide an injured employee with the necessary forms for their claim. Then, the employee completes and submits these forms to the California Division of Workers’ Compensation. The workers’ compensation board will review the employee’s paperwork to determine an appropriate estimation of benefits for the employee.
The Workers’ Compensation Process
One of the most important parts of the filing process for workers’ compensation is the medical examination. Every workers’ compensation insurance carrier provides a list of approved physicians, and an injured employee must select a physician from their employer’s list to perform a medical examination. An injured employee can seek treatment from any available doctor in an emergency, but once they are able to see an approved workers’ compensation physician, they must do so to obtain their disability rating.
The employee’s disability rating is one of the most crucial elements in a workers’ compensation claim. The physician who examines them will assess their injuries and the likelihood of long-term medical complications before assigning an appropriate disability rating. The higher the rating, the more benefits the employee is likely to receive.
Timeliness and accuracy are essential when filing for workers’ compensation benefits. California provides a one-year statute of limitations on workers’ compensation claims, meaning the employee has one year from the date an injury occurred to file a claim. However, it is always best to file as soon as possible. Any delay in your filing could cast doubt on the nature of your injuries and could lead to further delays in the handling of your claim.
Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits Amount
The California Division of Workers’ Compensation awards benefits for up to 104 weeks in most cases, although these payments can be spread across a period of up to five years. The most an injured employee can expect to receive in weekly benefits payments is two thirds of their average gross weekly wages. The higher the employee’s disability rating, the more the employee will receive in weekly benefits and the longer their benefits payments will continue.
Workers’ compensation benefits end when an employee reaches the end of their allotted benefits period or when they achieve “maximum medical improvement.” Maximum medical improvement describes a situation in which the employee has recovered as much as physically possible. In some situations, employees choose to return to work as soon as they are able, and an employer can assign the employee alternative work or a new position to accommodate their injury.
All Available Benefits From Workers’ Compensation
In most cases, an injured employee can expect to receive full coverage for any and all medical expenses incurred from a workplace injury as well as weekly benefits during their recovery. Workers’ compensation will cover all medical expenses including immediate treatment at a hospital, ambulance fees, prescription medication costs, and the cost of necessary medical devices like wheelchairs or crutches. If the employee’s injury requires ongoing treatment such as physical rehabilitation or occupational therapy, workers’ compensation should cover these ongoing treatments as well.
When a workplace injury involves a significant recovery time or results in a permanent disability, the injured employee can expect to receive temporary or permanent disability benefits based on the severity of their disability. To qualify for permanent disability benefits, the injured employee must have developed an incurable disability from their workplace injury that completely prevents them from working in the future.
Workers’ compensation in California can also provide funeral expenses and death benefits after a worker suffers a fatal injury. If a worker dies from a workplace injury, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier will pay their funeral costs. If the deceased had minor children or other dependents, they could receive death benefits to account for their lost financial support.
Why Should I Hire a Colton Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
The process of filing for workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace injury should be straightforward, but there are many factors that can complicate the process. For example, an employer has a legal obligation to provide an injured employee with the forms and other materials they need to complete their workers’ compensation claim. However, not every employer will fulfill these responsibilities in good faith.
Workers’ compensation depends on the workers’ compensation insurance system, and an employer must pay premiums to maintain their coverage. When an employee files for workers’ compensation, the employer’s premium rate may increase. Unfortunately, this encourages some employers to interfere with their employees’ claims or even engage in illegal retaliatory actions.
Hiring an experienced Colton workers’ compensation attorney is one of the best ways to avoid many of the problems claimants can face in the workers’ compensation system. Your attorney can help you complete and submit your initial claim paperwork to ensure it is as complete and accurate as possible. This can speed up the processing time for your claim and minimize the chance of experiencing unfair pushback against a legitimate claim.
If you encounter any unfair delays, an unfair denial of your claim, or illegal interference from your employer, your Colton workers’ compensation lawyer can help. Depending on how your workplace accident occurred, it may also be possible to pursue additional compensation outside of the workers’ compensation system. Your attorney can help you file a personal injury claim against a negligent employer or a third-party claim against the party responsible for your injury.
Understanding Retaliation in Workers’ Compensation Cases
It is vital to understand what “retaliation” means when it comes to your workers’ compensation claim. This term refers to adverse or hostile action taken by an employer against their employee in response to the employee’s protected action. Legally protected actions include filing for workers’ compensation, testifying as a witness in a legal case involving the employer, whistleblowing to report regulatory violations or workplace safety issues, and other actions taken by an employee in good faith that may adversely affect their employer.
For example, imagine that an employee is injured at work and asks for their workers’ compensation claim forms. The employer is afraid of a premium increase on their workers’ compensation insurance policy, so they fire the employee to avoid the extra expense. This situation is a clear example of retaliation, even if the employer attempts to cite some other reason for firing the employee.
Most employment in California operates on an “at-will” basis, meaning both employer and their employee have the right to terminate a working relationship at will. Termination can occur for any reason at all, and there is no obligation to provide any advance notice. Many view the concept as unfair since it may provide an employer an excuse to cover retaliatory action. If you believe you have encountered any type of retaliation after engaging in a protected action, you should consult a Colton workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.
Navigating Your Workers’ Compensation Case
While it is possible to file for workers’ compensation without an attorney, you may need to explore further legal action to recover your losses after a workplace injury. Having experienced legal counsel on your side will make both processes much easier. A Colton workers’ compensation attorney can be a tremendous asset if you are unsure how to approach your workers’ compensation claim, if you believe you encountered retaliation from your employer, or if you experienced unfair treatment from the California Division of Workers’ Compensation.
At Kampf, Schiavone & Associates, our team has years of experience handling the most complex workers’ compensation cases in the Colton, CA area. We understand the uncertainty and frustration that can follow any workplace injury and want to help you approach the claims process with confidence. If you are ready to discuss your legal options with a skilled Colton workers’ compensation attorney, contact Kampf, Schiavone & Associates today and schedule your consultation with our team.