Rancho Cucamonga Workers' Compensation Attorney
The workers’ compensation system can provide vital economic relief to a California worker after they sustain an injury at work. Workers’ compensation can potentially offer coverage for medical expenses as well as weekly benefits to replace lost income while an injured worker recovers from their injury. In some cases, the California workers’ compensation system can even award permanent benefits. If you or a loved one recently suffered any kind of injury at work that resulted in medical expenses, lost income, and other damages, a Rancho Cucamonga workers’ compensation attorney can help. Together, you and your attorney can secure the benefits you need and explore any additional options for legal recourse.
The attorneys at Kampf, Schiavone & Associates have years of experience assisting clients in Rancho Cucamonga and the surrounding areas navigate the workers’ compensation system. While the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim may seem straightforward at first, the reality is that these filings can be more challenging than you initially expect. In addition, there are many factors that can prevent your claim from success. As such, it is essential for all California workers to know their rights after any workplace injury and what to expect from the California workers’ compensation system.
How to File for Workers’ Compensation
The steps necessary to file for workers’ compensation benefits should be readily available to any injured employee in California. State law requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, even if an employer has only one employee. This insurance coverage will take effect whenever an employee is injured on the job or develops a medical condition due to job-related duties. For example, an employee injured in a fall at work has the same right to file for workers’ compensation as an employee who develops a degenerative condition from repetitive motions like typing or assembly line work.
Once an employee experiences a workplace injury, or as soon as they discover a medical condition caused by the performance of their job duties, they must notify their employer right away to begin the workers’ compensation claim process. Technically there is a one-year statute of limitations for filing workers’ compensation claims in California. However, it is always best to file as soon as possible after an injury, or as soon as you discover harm done by performing your job duties.
Your employer must provide you with the appropriate materials for filing your workers’ compensation claim. Materials include claim forms as well as a list of approved physicians you can visit to obtain your disability rating. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier will also require you to undergo medical examination from a physician they have approved. The insurance carrier will provide a list of acceptable physicians, and the physician you visit will assign a disability rating based on the severity of your injury and the likelihood of it causing permanent complications.
How Much Can I Receive in Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Your disability rating determines how much you can expect in benefits from workers’ compensation, which are typically paid out as a percentage of your average weekly wages for a predetermined number of weeks. Since benefits are based on disability rating, the higher the rating, the larger payment you may receive. The maximum amount an injured worker can receive in weekly benefits payments is two thirds of the employee’s average gross weekly wages.
Typically, workers’ compensation benefits end once the employee reaches “maximum medical improvement.” This term describes the point at which the employee has recovered from their injury as much as possible. California usually limits weekly benefits payments to 104 weeks, or two years. However, it is possible to spread benefits over a lengthier period of five years.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Include?
An injured employee can expect their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier to provide repayment of their medical expenses and weekly benefits based on the severity of their injury. Workers’ compensation usually provides complete coverage for any and all medical care the injured employee needs, including hospital bills, prescription medications, medical devices, ongoing therapy, and more.
When it comes to lost wages, injured employees can expect weekly benefits based on their disability rating. The employee can receive benefits until they are able to return to work, and some employees may wish to return to work in a limited capacity as soon as possible. An employer may need to adjust the employee’s job duties or assign them alternative work based on their injury.
Benefits for Severe Workplace Injuries
When a workplace injury is severe and the injured employee develops any type of disability, their employer’s insurance carrier can provide temporary or permanent disability benefits. These benefits are paid until the employee is able to return to work. In some cases, disability benefits may continue for the rest of the employee’s life if the injury results in a severe, permanent disability that prevents them from working in the future.
Workers’ compensation insurance can also provide death benefits to a worker’s family if they die from an injury sustained at work or while performing job duties. Death benefits can include partial coverage of the deceased employee’s funeral costs as well as ongoing payments to the deceased’s family. If children or other family members were financially dependent on the deceased’s income, the workers’ compensation system ensures they can receive benefits to account for the unexpected loss of financial support.
Why Do I Need a Rancho Cucamonga Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Filing for workers’ compensation benefits after an injury on the job should be a simple and painless process. Unfortunately, the reality is that it can be more complex and tedious than an injured worker may initially expect. Additionally, employers are legally prohibited from interfering with an injured employee’s claim and must provide them with the resources they need to file their claims. However, some employers engage in hostile or even illegal actions toward their injured employees because workers’ compensation claims can lead to premium increases for their insurance policy.
Hiring a Rancho Cucamonga workers’ compensation lawyer is one of the best ways to not only streamline your claims process, but also address any unforeseen legal issues that arise during or after your filing. Your attorney can help you file your claim correctly and completely, avoiding any potential delays with the California Division of Workers’ Compensation. If you encounter any problems, such as an unfair denial of your claim or an excessively low disability rating that provides inadequate benefits, your attorney can help with these concerns as well.
It may also be necessary to work with a Rancho Cucamonga workers’ compensation attorney if your employer takes any hostile or retaliatory actions against you after filing your claim. For example, if you notify your employer of a workplace injury and the employer fires you or refuses to provide the materials you need, you should contact a Rancho Cucamonga workers’ compensation lawyer immediately.
What Is Retaliation?
“Retaliation” is a legal term that describes adverse actions taken by an employer in response to their employee performing a legally protected action. Protected actions include filing for workers’ compensation in good faith, testifying in a court case involving the employer, or reporting workplace safety violations or regulatory violations to the appropriate authorities. An employer may not take adverse action against an employee for engaging in a protected action. Unfortunately, the “at-will” nature of employment in the US often provides employers an easy excuse to fire employees who engage in protected actions.
At-will employment means that both an employer and their employee have the right to terminate a working relationship at any time, with or without notice, for any reason or no reason at all. While this may seem like it would insulate an employer from claims of retaliation, this is not necessarily true. If you believe you were fired, demoted, or otherwise treated unfairly after filing for workers’ compensation, your Rancho Cucamonga workers’ compensation attorney can help you prove the truth of the matter and hold your employer accountable.
What to Expect From Your Rancho Cucamonga Workers’ Compensation Attorney
When you suffer an injury at work, your attorney can help you navigate the workers’ compensation claim process and increase the chance of securing benefits as quickly as possible. If you encounter any issues with your claim, such as an unfair denial or an unreasonable delay in handling your claim, your attorney can help you hold your employer or their insurance company accountable. If you reach the end of your benefits period and require further economic relief, your attorney can help you appeal to the California Division of Workers’ Compensation to seek additional benefits.
The benefits you receive through workers’ compensation may not be enough to fully cover your total losses after a workplace injury. It is also possible that you may experience a hostile work environment after filing for workers’ compensation benefits. In either of these situations, an experienced Rancho Cucamonga workers’ compensation lawyer can provide the guidance you need to navigate additional legal actions and secure the compensation necessary for a complete recovery. If you are ready to speak with a Rancho Cucamonga workers’ compensation attorney about your situation, contact Kampf, Schiavone & Associates today and schedule a consultation with our team.