Fontana Workers' Compensation Attorney
Workplace injuries occur with an alarming frequency across the nation, affecting the lives of millions of Americans each year. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported over 2.8 million work-related injuries in 2019. Worse, one worker succumbs to their work injuries every 99 minutes.
Workers’ compensation law in California requires that all employers provide their workers with reasonably safe, healthy working environments and outlines options for legal recourse when workers sustain injuries. If you suffered a workplace injury, you have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries. However, navigating the workers’ system can be confusing, difficult, and intimidating, especially if you are experiencing the recovery process.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a system developed to cover expenses an employee may incur due to sustaining an injury at the workplace or while performing job-related duties. Each state governs its own workers’ compensation system and requires workers to meet specific guidelines and statutes of limitations to recover funds. Funds may reimburse workers for medical expenses, disability benefits, lost wages, and other expenses needed for completing a full recovery and reentering the workforce.
In California, workers’ compensation operates as a no-fault system. This means that, unlike personal injury claims, you do not have to supply evidence of negligence for a claim to be valid. Under a no-fault system, you can submit a workers’ compensation claim regardless of the circumstances, even if your own carelessness contributed to your injury.
What Are My Rights?
As a worker in California, the law guarantees you certain legal rights, including:
- The right to file a workers’ compensation claim for a work-related injury.
- The right to visit a healthcare provider and receive treatment.
- The right to hire the services of a workers’ compensation attorney for legal representation during the process of pursuing compensation.
- The right to resume working in the position you held before sustaining the injury once your doctor decides you are fit to do so.
- The right to pursue temporary or permanent disability benefits if your injury prevents you from returning to work.
- The right to appeal any judgments made by your employer, their insurance company, or the workers’ compensation court.
Under workers’ compensation law, you also have the right to refuse requests or offers made by your employer in an attempt to avoid paying for damages you incurred due to your injuries. It is illegal for your employer to attempt to persuade you into dropping a claim, force you to use your personal health insurance to cover the cost of treatment, harass you, punish you, or otherwise retaliate against you because you filed a claim. California workers’ compensation courts enforce strict legal penalties against employers who try to prohibit you from exercising your rights under workers’ compensation law.
What Does Workers Comp Cover?
Workers’ compensation usually covers at least half of the expenses incurred due to a workplace injury. A compensation award covers the full cost of medical treatment and often provides income replacement equaling around two thirds of what the worker would have earned if they had not sustained the injury. Workers’ compensation may also cover expenses for long-term injuries or illnesses that occurred or worsened while completing tasks for their employer. This includes exacerbation of pre-existing conditions, injuries from repetitive motion, such as carpal tunnel or chronic back problems, health issues caused by exposure on the job, and physical or psychological conditions resulting from workplace stress.
Because California workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, most injuries sustained due to careless behavior in the workplace or while performing job duties are covered by workers’ compensation. However, there are restrictions depending on the specific injuries and the harm they caused. Examples of situations that do not constitute a valid workers’ compensation claim include a worker who becomes injured while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while violating federal or state laws, or while disregarding company policy.
What Benefits Does Workers’ Compensation Provide?
A Fontana workers’ compensation attorney can help you pursue five types of benefits:
- Medical Benefits—Expenses involved in the medical treatment of a work-related injury can include emergency care services, surgical procedures, assistive devices, prescription medication, the cost of traveling to doctor’s appointments, and other out-of-pocket expenses. In some cases, you can also recover compensation for the cost of ongoing medical care.
- Temporary Disability Benefits—An injury that leads to missing over three days of work or requires hospitalization can receive temporary disability benefits in the form of wage replacement. Benefits amount to two thirds of the income you would have earned during a typical week before experiencing the injury. You can receive temporary disability benefits for a maximum of two years, after which you either stop receiving benefits or may become eligible for permanent disability benefits.
- Permanent Disability Benefits—An injury that is long-term, significantly life-altering, and prevents you from reentering the workforce can qualify you for permanent disability benefits. The permanent disability award depends on the worker’s age, health condition, occupation, and percentage of disability. Awards can range from less than $1,000 to over $260,000.
- Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits—If you are unable to return to your prior position or must change industries because of your injury, you can receive supplemental job displacement benefits for vocational training or rehabilitation. This award covers up to $10,000 and can be provided in the form of training or cash. Often the award takes the form of vouchers for job search assistance in cases where the employer does not offer you your previous position within 60 days of completing a full recovery.
- Death Benefits—The surviving family members of a worker who died because of their workplace injury can pursue compensation in the form of death benefits. Workers’ compensation courts will calculate these benefits based on the number of dependents remaining and begin paying out one year from the date of the worker’s death.
Is It Worth Getting a Workers Comp Attorney?
After you experience a work-related injury, the best course of action to ensure you can obtain fair compensation is to hire the services of an experienced Fontana workers’ compensation attorney. An attorney can help you understand the law, so you know what to expect during the claims process and provides expert legal advice for how to proceed if challenges arise. Workers’ compensation lawyers can prove the validity of your claim, ensure you submit all necessary documentation accurately and according to state guidelines, and oversee the processing of your claim to confirm proper distribution.
Hiring an attorney also guarantees you are prepared for any of the myriad complications that occur when you attempt to recover compensation. If your employer or the courts deny your claim, your attorney can help you navigate the appeals process. If your employer tries to retaliate against you, your attorney can make sure they receive the proper penalties. Insurance companies can implement dishonest, manipulative tactics to avoid paying your claim, including trying to minimize or refute your injuries or argue against the need for compensation. An attorney will protect your rights, gather evidence, prepare your claim, handle negotiations, and take your case to court if necessary.
What Percentage Does a Workers Comp Attorney Get?
Your Fontana workers’ compensation attorney will work on a contingency basis, meaning you only owe attorney fees if they win your case and recover compensation for you. After your attorney negotiates a settlement or an award, they will request that the judge approve their attorney fee. To make this decision, the judge will review the complexity of your case, the amount of time and attention your attorney devoted to your case, and the results they obtained.
On average, a workers’ compensation lawyer’s fee equals anywhere from 9% to 12% of the settlement or award amount. Attorneys can charge less than 9% for simple cases requiring little work. However, attorneys may charge up to 15% for especially difficult cases, such as those involving extensive investigations, multiple employers, or complex legal issues.
Can You Sue Your Employer?
Workers’ compensation policies exist to replace personal injury claims. Therefore, they generally prevent injured workers from pursuing civil personal injury claims against their employers if they sustain an injury. Paying for workers’ compensation insurance coverage offers financial protection for employers by removing the potential for expensive litigation.
However, there are certain circumstances in which the state will allow an injured worker to bypass workers’ compensation and file a personal injury claim instead to cover their damages. For example, a worker harmed due to the intentional actions of an employer could also pursue a personal injury claim. Similarly, a worker experiencing harm due to handling defective products or toxic materials could pursue a personal injury claim.
Obtain Fair Compensation Now
If you have experienced a work-related injury or lost a loved one due to a workplace injury they suffered, Kampf, Schiavone & Associates can help. For over three decades, our team of Fontana workers compensation attorneys has helped clients recover justice and fair compensation for injuries sustained on the job. Along with extensive legal knowledge, we have an in-depth understanding of how insurance companies operate and can strategically negotiate to deliver the maximum award for you. Our impressive record includes over $250 million in settlements and verdicts recovered for clients throughout California.
To schedule a consultation, contact Kampf, Schiavone & Associates today. When you hire our team to represent you, you can focus your energy on resting and healing while we will fight for the compensation you deserve.