Providing Legal Counsel to San Bernardino Victims of Overexertion Injuries
When most people think of workers’ compensation claims in San Bernardino, they imagine serious accidents like broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, falls, and electrocutions. However, a large portion of workers’ compensation claims filed in California pertain to seemingly mild, yet disruptive and painful injuries caused by overexertion. If you believe you have sustained any overexertion injury from your work, you likely have grounds to file for workers’ compensation benefits under California law. An experienced San Bernardino overexertion injury lawyer can be a helpful asset as you work toward securing the benefits you need.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
While it’s technically possible to file a workers’ compensation claim on your own without the assistance of a personal injury attorney, the process is much easier when you have legal counsel you can trust on your side. If you attempt to file your workers’ compensation claim on your own, you will need to do so while also managing the effects of your overexertion injury, and mistakes with the claim process are common throughout California. Even a slight error in your claim submission could result in significant delays in the California Department of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) processing your claim. An experienced San Bernardino overexertion injury lawyer can help you navigate the claim process confidently and provide a wide range of helpful legal services while you focus on your recovery.
The personal injury lawyers of Kampf, Schiavone & Associates have years of experience assisting our firm’s clients with their workers’ compensation claims. We have handled a wide range of workers’ compensation claims for all types of injuries, from acute catastrophic injuries to work-related degenerative conditions and acquired illnesses. In addition, California state law upholds that any worker who develops a medical condition or suffers an injury at work has the right to claim workers’ compensation benefits, and we can help you take full advantage of this right for your overexertion injury.
What Is an Overexertion Injury?
The term “overexertion injury” is relatively broad and can apply to many different types of injuries. However, the common thread among the different possible overexertion injuries is stress on the body’s soft tissues when the body is subjected to forces it cannot physically handle or when a worker pushes themselves beyond the boundaries of physical safety at work.For example, some overexertion injuries can occur simply by sitting or standing for too long during every work shift. It’s also possible to suffer an overexertion injury from lifting an object that is too heavy, environmental conditions such as extreme heat or cold, repeated exposure to vibrations from machinery, or using excessive physical force to complete a task.
Several types of overexertion injuries can qualify for workers’ compensation:
- Soft tissue injuries, such as muscle sprains, strains, and damage to tendons and ligaments throughout the body. While these injuries can often heal on their own, severe soft tissue injuries may require surgical correction and can cause lasting damage.
- Heat exhaustion, often experienced by workers who spend too much time working outdoors in direct sunlight without adequate hydration and sun protection. Some heat-related overexertion injuries, such as heatstroke, can be fatal without prompt medical intervention.
- Back injuries. The spine is one of the most crucial and complex components of the human body, and the various muscles and other tissues attached to it can suffer injuries from repeated bending, lifting, hauling, and other manual tasks. Back injuries can be incredibly painful and debilitating, and repeated back injuries can easily cause disability.
- Repetitive stress injuries. Many types of work require completing the same manual tasks over and over again. For example, typing, assembly line work, constant lifting, and carrying objects can result in repetitive stress injuries. One of the most commonly cited repetitive stress injuries is the carpal tunnel system resulting from typing every day.
These injuries may seem minor at first, but some overexertion injuries can cause lasting damage to the body, interfering with one’s ability to work and requiring expensive long-term medical care.
Potential Medical Complications From Overexertion Injuries
While overexertion injuries are generally less severe than more acute traumatic injuries such as broken bones, brain damage, spinal fractures, and exposure to toxic chemicals, they can cause severe problems for those who experience them. Many overexertion injuries result from repetitive stress over time. If your work demands you perform the same task repeatedly and you develop an overexertion injury from this task, it will be very difficult for you to return to the same job after you recover. Since the task itself is responsible for your overexertion injury, resuming the same work will very likely yield yet another overexertion injury.
Overexertion injuries can be painful, interfere with mobility and range of motion, and diminish quality of life. They can also leave the victim predisposed to future overexertion injuries and other medical conditions. These injuries can also leave victims unable to resume similar work after they recover, making it difficult for them to find new gainful employment.
Can I Sue for a Workplace Injury?
If you have suffered any workplace injury in California, it’s natural to wonder whether you may have grounds for a lawsuit against your employer. California state law requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage, even if the employer only has one employee. This insurance coverage typically insulates employers from liability for injuries their employees suffer. In most cases, you can only sue your employer if they somehow intentionally caused your workplace injury. It is also possible to file a personal injury claim against a third party responsible for your injury at work. Workers’ compensation could provide initial economic relief, but if it does not fully satisfy your losses, further action with a third-party claim can potentially yield the additional compensation you need to recover.
If you sustain any workplace injury in California, the workers’ compensation system is typically your first step toward recovery. You should, however, consult an experienced San Bernardino overexertion injury lawyer to determine if you have any other available options for legal recourse.
Navigating the Workers’ Compensation System
Every state upholds unique workers’ compensation laws, and California enforces some of the strictest workers’ compensation statutes in the country. If you suffer any injury at work, you and your employer have certain obligations under these statutes. Your responsibilities include reporting the injury immediately to your supervisor and seeking prompt medical attention for your injury. In addition, your employer’s responsibility in this situation is to provide you with the claim form and other materials you require to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Filing for workers’ compensation is more complex than many injured workers initially realize. You must provide complete and accurate information, and you must also see a workers’ compensation physician to receive a disability rating to submit along with your claim. Every workers’ compensation insurance carrier offers a list of local doctors to their policyholders. If you are injured at work and require emergency care, you can see any available doctor until your condition stabilizes. However, if your injury does not demand immediate emergency care or your condition has stabilized after emergency treatment, you must then see a physician approved by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
The workers’ compensation physician will examine you and determine the extent of your injury. They will use this information to determine the appropriate disability rating. This rating pertains to the severity of your injury and the likelihood that you will experience long-term effects from it. Many overexertion injuries are not acutely severe but carry a high chance of causing long-term or permanent damage. Therefore, depending on the severity of your overexertion injury, your disability rating could be pretty high.
Once you have completed your claim form and received your disability rating from a workers’ compensation physician, you must file your claim to the California DWC for review and approval. If the DWC determines that you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you will receive two-thirds of your average weekly wages each week until you reach maximum medical recovery. The term “maximum medical recovery” refers to the point at which you are healed as much as you are physically able to heal from your injury. Benefits will continue for up to 104 weeks unless the DWC determines the claimant qualifies for permanent disability benefits, in which case the claimant will receive weekly workers’ compensation benefits for the rest of their life.
Potential Problems You Might Encounter With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation claim process is not straightforward or easy for everyone who needs to file a claim for an overexertion injury. For example, the DWC may deny a claim due to an unintentional omission of your claim paperwork, filing error, or other technicality. You may also experience delays in handling your claim, and some people even experience interference from their employers.
If your employer refuses to provide you with the materials you need to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, or if they take any punitive actions against you after you request your workers’ compensation claim form, this is a violation of California law. Therefore, you should consult a San Bernardino overexertion injury lawyer as soon as possible in this situation to determine your best possible remedies.
Every American employee has the right to perform specific protected actions without fear of negative repercussions or direct punishment from their employers. Protected actions include whistleblowing in good faith to a government agency to report safety violations or failure to uphold industry regulations, testifying in an open court case against an employer, and filing for workers’ compensation benefits in good faith. If you are fired, demoted, or otherwise punished after asking for a workers’ compensation claim form for your injury, this is illegal retaliation, and an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you hold your employer accountable for this behavior.
What Can I Expect From Workers’ Compensation?
Once the California DWC receives and processes your claim,it will determine your eligibility for benefits. You can usually expect workers’ compensation benefits to comprehensively cover all medical costs associated with your workplace injury. For example, many overexertion injuries require immediate care followed by ongoing rehabilitative treatment, and workers’ compensation pays for both. You will then receive weekly benefits up to two-thirds of your average weekly wages for up to 104 weeks. It is possible to extend these 104 weeks for five years. For example, if you can return to work for a limited time or in a limited capacity, the DWC can adjust your benefit payment schedule accordingly.
Due to the nature of most overexertion injuries, many workers who experience these injuries cannot return to the same job following their recovery. Doing so would likely cause a resurgence in their symptoms or may result in even worse injuries. As a result, some claimants may secure alternative employment from their employers that does not pose the same overexertion risk as their previous positions. When this entails a change in pay, the DWC may account for this by providing partial workers’ compensation benefits to help make up the difference. If an overexertion injury is severe enough to cause permanent disability, the DWC may determine that the claimant qualifies for permanent benefits.
It’s important to remember that while the workers’ compensation system can streamline recovery and offer much-needed financial aid after a workplace injury, there is no guarantee that workers’ compensation benefits will fully cover the cost of an overexertion injury. In addition, if your injury resulted from intentional actions from your employer, the negligence of a third party, or a defective product, you might have grounds for civil action beyond the workers’ compensation system that can yield additional compensation for your losses.
Find Legal Assistance Today
If you need assistance filing your workers’ compensation claim after a workplace injury, or if you believe you have grounds for other legal actions outside the workers’ compensation system, you need legal representation you can trust to help you weigh your options and navigate your recovery process. If you need help from an experienced and responsive San Bernardino overexertion injury lawyer, Kampf, Schiavone & Associates have the skills, resources, and legal experience you need. Contact us today, and we will let you know how our firm can assist in your recovery after an overexertion injury.