Victorville Workers' Compensation Attorney
Millions of occupational injuries occur every year, thousands of which result in worker fatalities. In California, the workers’ compensation system serves workers by providing them with financial support to cover their damages. If you or a loved one suffered a work-related injury, contact Kampf, Schiavone & Associates immediately. Our dedicated team possesses the legal knowledge, litigation expertise, and considerable resources needed to handle the unique aspects of a workers’ compensation case. We provide world-class legal representation and will guide you through every step of the process to guarantee you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
Workers’ Compensation Law Explained
Workers’ compensation law refers to the system of rules designed by each state to cover the expenses incurred by employees as the result of sustaining harm at the workplace or during the performance of their job-related duties. This system is governed by the state and financed by compulsory contributions by employers. According to state guidelines, submitting a valid workers’ compensation claim allows an injured worker to recover expenses for medical bills, disability payments, lost wages, loss of future earning potential, and any other costs required to complete full rehabilitation and receive job retraining.
To mitigate risks for injured employees and their employers, states administer workers’ compensation laws as a replacement for traditional personal injury litigation. When work-related injuries occur outside of a workers’ compensation system, injured employees must file a personal injury claim and provide evidence that the employer is directly responsible for the injuries. This process often involves substantial delays, and sometimes an employee may lose their case in court and be unable to recover any compensation.
Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury Claims
Under normal circumstances, workers’ compensation policies act as a replacement for personal injury claims, preventing injured workers from pursuing such claims against the company in the event of an injury. This protects employers financially by eliminating the potential for litigation that may result in an expensive damage award. Even if the employer acted negligently and this negligence caused an employee to become injured or killed, the employer is only responsible for providing compensation that covers its regular contributions to the workers’ compensation system. Essentially, this system serves as an insurance program into which employers must make contributions as mandated by the government.
While workers’ compensation offers certainty regarding the ability to recover expenses due to a work-related injury, this system also places limits on both employees and employers. Pursuing a workers’ compensation claim legally prohibits the injured employee from filing claims against their employer for negligence. Unfortunately, even a successful workers’ compensation claim may conclude in a significantly smaller award than what may have been received in a personal injury claim. For employers, the state-charged premium forms the main limitation of this system, requiring payroll expenses regardless of a work-related accident occurring.
Each state outlines certain exceptions to these rules, providing injured workers with the opportunity to bypass workers’ compensation laws to file personal injury claims to cover their damages. This includes cases in which an employer purposely acts in a manner that causes harm to the employee or cases involving injury due to defective products or exposure to toxic substances. Workers may also be free to file claims against third parties that share responsibility for the injury, such as landowners, contractors, or drivers.
Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation
Most employees are covered by workers’ compensation if they suffer an injury on the worksite or while performing job tasks off-site. Still, some categories of workers may be ineligible due to a variety of factors. Stipulations differ based on specific states but typically do not include coverage of business owners, independent contractors, volunteers, workers employed in a farm, railroad, or private home, overseas workers, and employees that do not meet requirements for a minimum number of working hours. Employees of the federal government are usually covered by a federal workers’ compensation package and therefore do not receive compensation from the state system.
Expenses Covered in Workers’ Compensation Packages
Workers’ compensation packages may not be sufficient to cover all expenses, but in most cases, they cover at least half of the financial obligations incurred from the work-related injury. A workers’ compensation package usually provides injured employees with approximately two-thirds of the amount of their normal earned income during the period they are unable to continue their employment. This allocates funds for medical care and treatment but does not cover physical pain or mental anguish suffered during the injury.
Along with isolated accidents, workers’ compensation may cover long-term illnesses created or worsened during the course of employment. This includes developing cumulative injuries, such as chronic back issues or repetitive strain, occupation-related illnesses that result from job exposure, such as heart conditions or lung diseases, physical or psychological conditions caused by stress, or exacerbating a pre-existing condition. Compensation may also be pursued in cases of temporary or permanent disability, such as the loss of a limb. If job retraining is necessary for the employee to perform essential duties, this expense is often covered as well. If a work-related injury results in the death of the injured employee, the surviving family members of the employee may receive compensation from the workers’ compensation policy.
Incidents Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Injuries resulting from carelessness or negligence in the workplace or during the performance of job duties are generally covered by workers’ compensation packages. However, restrictions do exist based on the type of injuries sustained and the extent of harm resulting from these injuries. If a worker is under the influence of alcohol or drugs while experiencing an injury, they are typically prohibited from seeking workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, compensation may be denied if the case involves violating state or federal laws, committing offenses against company policy, or if the employee was not located on the worksite and not in the process of performing job-related duties when the injury occurred.
Should I Get a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
When you are injured in the workplace or while performing job duties, a Victorville workers’ compensation attorney can help you decide the best course of action to gain the maximum damage award. This attorney can ensure your claim is valid and any necessary documentation is processed in a correct, timely manner. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney provides valuable assistance in understanding the intricacies of the law and directing how to proceed in specific situations. By choosing to hire an attorney for this process, not only do you benefit from a lawyer’s knowledge and attention to detail while preparing your claim, you will be prepared for any complications you may encounter.
A claim may be derailed in several ways at any point throughout the process, from inaccuracies on your workers’ compensation claim to difficulties with your employer or their insurance company. Insurance companies often employ aggressive tactics to avoid payouts, including attempts to limit specific parameters of the claim or admitting the validity of the claim but refuting the occupational hazards of the workplace, certain injuries sustained while working, or the need to offer compensation for the injuries that occur. Your lawyer will gather irrefutable evidence, carefully prepare your claim, and conduct communication with the insurance carrier to handle negotiations for reaching a settlement.
If your initial application for workers’ compensation benefits is denied, seeking legal representation becomes even more essential. The denial rate for these claims has risen by 20% just between 2013 and 2017. However, you must realize that a denial does not mean the end of your claim. In fact, 67% of denied claims convert to paid claims within one year, and the compensation package averages 55% more than the initial claim. Expert legal assistance is imperative to converting your claim, as denied claims featuring litigation result in an average compensation of $36,991 compared to the $7,489 awarded in non-denied, non-litigated claims.
Sometimes workers’ compensation claims may lead to retaliation against the claimant, even when the legitimacy of the claim has been proven because claims typically raise the insurance premium rate for coverage. Examples of retaliatory behavior include interfering with the claims process or punishing you with reduced hours, demotion, termination, or creating a hostile work environment. It is illegal for employers to retaliate against an employee after they have requested documentation for filing a claim. A workers’ compensation attorney can also help you seek legal recourse if this occurs.
Contact Attorneys Kampf, Schiavone & Associates Today
If you have been injured in a work-related incident and believe you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, contact Kampf, Schiavone & Associates today. Since 1985, our expert team of Victorville workers’ compensation attorneys has helped thousands of California residents confidently and conveniently navigate this intricate process. As the San Bernardino area’s largest workers’ compensation law firm, our impressive record features over $250 million recovered for our loyal clients. We handle all cases on a contingency basis, meaning you pay no attorney fee unless we win your case.
For a free consultation to discuss your legal options, call (866) 583-8796 or submit the contact form on our website.