Indio Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
No matter what kind of work you do, there are inherent risks in every job. However, your employer is expected to institute safety protocols to reduce your risk. A workplace injury caused by your employer’s failure to implement proper safety measures can have a significant impact on your life, giving you the right to workers’ compensation.
California employees are entitled to workers’ compensation if the injury sustained is related to their job and was not caused by their own “horseplay” or negligence. However, because California is considered a no-fault state, workers’ compensation claims do not have to prove negligence for their injuries as long as proper safety measures were in place. Failure to provide those measures could mean that you have a basis for filing a personal injury claim.
While not every workers’ compensation situation requires the assistance of an attorney, consulting with an Indio workers’ compensation lawyer can help you understand your options.
California Employer Obligations
Federal agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establish standards that employers must meet in workplaces across the country, as employers are legally responsible for the health and safety of their employees. While each industry has its own safety standards, all must meet federal guidelines to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths. To accomplish this, employers must make genuine efforts to ensure proper training, such as:
- Employee training
- Safety gear
- Emergency protocols
- Procedures for cleaning up spills
- Any other necessary forms of employee safety
When an employer fails to maintain these standards, this can constitute negligence, which could place blame on the employer, the company, or the manager. However, in cases involving workplace injuries, these are not the only entities that claims can be brought against. You may also be able to file a claim against manufacturers of defective products, coworkers, criminals who are in the act of committing a crime, or third parties if they are the cause of the injury.
Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury Claim
Consulting with a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine how to approach your workplace injury. In most cases, you will be limited to filing a workers’ compensation claim with your employer. To additionally file a personal injury claim, there must be clear evidence of negligence on behalf of your employer, a coworker, the company, or another third party.
Personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims are not the same. When seeking compensation from your employer, you are limited to reimbursement of specific work-related monies. Benefits of workers’ compensation often include:
- Lost wages
- Temporary total disability
- Temporary partial disability
- Permanent partial disability
- Total and permanent disability
- Medical care
- Death benefits
When trying to recover benefits, you may be awarded a partial amount. If you file a claim for an injury that is aggravated at work but not necessarily caused by work, you may not receive full compensation. For example, if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or a back injury that could be aggravated at work, but whose cause is not directly linked to work, your compensation may not be what you expect. This can be a frustrating part of the claim process.
If you feel there was negligence involved in causing your injury, you may seek to file a personal injury claim. When filing the claim, it must be filed against the responsible party. An example would be a situation where your employer uses proper safety measures and training, but your injury was caused by malfunctioning equipment. Your claim would likely be filed against the manufacturer and not your employer, unless your employer failed to perform proper inspections and maintenance.
Impacts on Compensation
When determining whether a workers’ compensation claim is complete, partial, or denied, there are several mitigating factors to consider. These include:
- Fault. Unlike personal injury claims, fault is not a determining factor in workers’ compensation if it was not caused by personal “horseplay.” If the injury occurred while performing the regular duties of the job, it may qualify for workers’ compensation.
- Intent. This is a protection protocol for employers because workers’ compensation claims are accidents. If it is proven that you intentionally caused your injury for the purpose of gaining workers’ compensation benefits, you may be denied your claim.
- Safety protocols. Employers that provide proper training and instill proper safety protocols may deny your claim if you fail to follow the proper procedures. For example, you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol while working, or you were not wearing proper safety equipment. However, if there were improper safety procedures in place, you could be entitled to an increase in compensation.
- Location. While most industries have a specific location where work occurs, such as an office, there are some instances where your work requires a remote location. In these cases, the property you are authorized to be at for the completion of your work is covered for potential injury. Industries where this would apply could include pest control, construction, or cable installation. However, you should make sure you know if your employer covers the travel to and from the location.
Steps to Take If You Are Injured on the Job
Before filing any workers’ compensation claim, there are several steps that you should take that will help increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.
- Seek medical attention if necessary. If your injury is severe or life-threatening, getting the medical attention you need should be a priority. However, if your injuries are minor, you may feel that you can delay necessary medical attention. You may even be inclined to search the internet for your symptoms and try to self-diagnose. No matter what your injuries are, you should seek proper medical care. This not only provides you with the necessary treatment but also the expert documentation required to support your claim.
- Notify your employer immediately. You will want your injury documented as soon as possible with your employer. When you submit your claim, be sure to include all the documentation that relates to your injury, including any medical paperwork, witness statements, emails, or documentation of conversations that occurred. The more evidence you have to back up your claim, the more likely it is that it will be honored, and you will receive benefits.
- File the appropriate paperwork. In California, the Department of Industrial Relations is required to mail or provide you with a claim form within one working day from the time they learn of your injury or illness. The paperwork provides the information that your employer needs to file the claim with their insurance company. If you deliver the paperwork in person, keep a record of who received it and, if possible, have them sign a record that they did. If the form is mailed, send a certified copy that requires a signature.
- Contact a workers’ compensation attorney. After you have started the process with your employer to receive benefits, you should follow up with an attorney who can review the details of your situation to decide if further action should be taken. The attorney will also review the response of the employer. In some cases, claims for workers’ compensation are downplayed to save money on paid benefits. An attorney will look for negligence but will also make sure that you are receiving the benefits to which you are entitled.
Length of Time to Approve a Workers’ Comp Settlement
Generally, workers’ compensation trials last no longer than one day. Each case can vary, but final notice could take longer than 30 days to reach you, your attorney, your employer, or your employer’s insurance company. In some instances, your case could take upwards of six months. Your attorney will help you understand the timeline of your case.
Getting a Workers’ Comp Settlement
There are two routes your claim could go that could impact the timeline of your particular situation. The first timeline is more ideal and direct. This is when your employer’s insurance company accepts the claim and provides immediate compensation. The second, lengthier avenue is when your claim needs to be heard in front of a judge during an informal hearing,
Settling a Workers’ Compensation Case
There are two ways to settle workers’ compensation cases in California. One way is called a stipulated award, which is used when you continue employment with the same employer but want to keep your medical options open for future treatment. The second way is known as compromise and release, in which you agree to a lump sum payment and take control of your own medical treatments and expenses.
Pain and Suffering
What is known as “pain and suffering” is a part of personal injury law and is not part of workers compensation. If your injury was due to negligence and your attorney advises you to file a personal injury claim, they will also advise you on whether to include pain and suffering in your settlement. Your attorney can also help determine a value to place on your pain and suffering.
Indio, CA Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have been injured on the job and are looking to file a workers’ compensation claim, you should speak to an expert attorney early in the process who will guide you through your filing. At Kampf, Schiavone & Associates, our expert team is ready to help you seek the compensation you may be entitled to. Contact our offices today and let our knowledge and experience get to work for you.