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Orange County Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

If you want results, call us. If you want peace of mind, call us. If you want representation who understands the hardship that has been thrust upon you, call us.

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According to California State Law, employers are legally bound to provide a safe place to work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establishes minimum standards for workplace environments across all industries. While some workplaces are naturally more hazardous than others, anyone can sustain an injury on the job.

Depending on where you work, you may be facing work hazards like dangerous chemicals and heavy machinery that present a risk of bodily harm. Even office workers can face a lengthy recovery from chronic conditions like carpal tunnel or muscle strains. If you work in a high-pressure environment, you may be more susceptible to stress and psychological trauma.

When you’ve sustained a work injury in an accident, via negligence behavior, or from poor ergonomics, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

What Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance purchased by employers for the coverage of employees in the event of an accident, injury, or illness. Every state has its own version of worker’s compensation laws to protect workers, but in the state of California, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance and benefits include:

  • Medical Care – doctor visits, tests, medicine, treatment, and even travel costs
  • Temporary Disability Benefits – payment for lost wages if your injury is temporary but still prevents you from working
  • Permanent Disability Benefits – payment if your injury does not recover complete and causes permanent, measurable damage
  • Death Benefits – payment to your spouse, children, or dependents in the event of a fatal injury

Workers’ Compensation Facts and Statistics

  • As of July 2016, there were over 19 million civilian workers in the California workforce.
  • As of August 28, 2016, the US Department of Labor reports that there have been 11,629 workers compensation claims filed and over $446 million paid in medical bills and total compensation.
  • Almost 75% of California workers hire an attorney to help them with their claims.
  • Temporary and permanent disability combine for over 90% of all workers’ compensation benefits paid in California.
  • Only 1-2% of workers’ compensation claims are fraudulent.

Number of Indemnity Claims in California Per 100 Public and Private Sector Workers

Source: CHSWC 2015 Annual Report

If you are injured, what should you do?

Report the Incident

Workers’ compensation claims are split into two general categories: indemnity and medical-only. An indemnity claim occurs when an employee is injured at work and cannot return until he or she heals. A medical only claim means that the injury is less serious and an employee can receive medical treatment and return immediately there after. As soon as you suspect an injury at work, promptly report it to your employer and determine which type of injury it is. The state of California gives you 30 days to report the incident for maximum benefits. A delay in reporting can lead to a delay in benefits, even an outright denial. Sometimes symptoms of an injury can take days to manifest, so report your situation as soon as possible.

Get Appropriate Care

As soon as you notice symptoms of an injury, seek medical care promptly. Ignoring symptoms may make your situation worse, leading to more missed work. The workers’ compensation program is designed to retroactively pay your medical expenses, so don’t worry about how you’re going to pay for them. Focus on finding the help you need.

File a Claim Report

Your employee should provide you with a claim form and ask you to fill out the “employee” section. Be as thorough as possible. Once the employer submits the claim to the program, you should have an answer within 14 business days. Even as a part-time or temporary employee, you’re usually still entitled to file a claim.

Claim Denial

Unfortunately, employers don’t always file claims with the care they’re supposed to. If they leave out important details or fail to submit the claim on time, it could lead to a denial of benefits. If this happens, you need the services of an experienced attorney to make your claims process streamlined and effective.

The State of California empowers their employees with certain rights, so if you’re injured on the job, your employer is not permitted to terminate your employment, even if you miss time from work. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, your employer must make reasonable accommodations or restructure the work around your injury.

If your injuries are serious enough to cause permanent damage, the worker’s compensation program is designed to provide you with disability benefits based on income and earning capacity.

If your claim is denied for any reason, you’re eligible to file an appeal. An attorney’s help is essential in the event of an appeal.

Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

According to California Labor Code Section 132a, it is illegal for your employer to punish or fire you for having a job related injury or filing a compensation claim. It is also illegal for your employer to fire or punish a coworker who is a witness or testifies in your case. Furthermore, if you work for a company with 50 or more employees, the FMLA states that you may take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks, without losing your job, if you need to recover from a serious medical condition.

Common tactics used to avoid paying workers’ compensation include:

  • A case in California in 2009 featured a company that misinterpreted a statute that exempts officers who are sole company shareholders from coverage. The company elevated many different job descriptions to officer status and provided worthless shares of stock to avoid paying workers’ compensation premiums.
  • Wrongful termination. Some employers may try to fire an injured employee to prevent having to pay workers’ compensation. While employers are allowed to terminate employees for legitimate reasons after a workplace injury, they cannot terminate an employee to avoid paying workers’ compensation. Always seek evaluation from a non-company doctor, and take note of anything that seems odd or unusual. For instance, if your employer provides partial disability for recovery and fires you for your prolonged absence, contact an attorney as soon as possible.
  • Classifying employees as independent contractors. Employers are not required to offer workers’ compensation to anyone who qualifies as an independent contractor. However, many employees are erroneously labeled as independent contractors so an employer can avoid paying workers’ compensation. If you think you may be wrongly labeled as an independent contractor, an attorney can help you determine which category you legally fall under. If you are an employee, you will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Encouraging employees to see a company doctor. Any clinic or physician associated with your company may not accurately diagnose your condition. Not only could their statement prevent you from receiving the compensation you deserve; it can also prevent you from recovering properly. Always seek a second opinion from an independent physician if you feel like your injury has been misrepresented.
  • Advising employees to use alternatives to workers’ compensation. Be wary of an employer who encourages you to take sick leave or use group insurance to cover their injury needs. As an employee, workers’ compensation benefits will cover both your sick leave and your medical expenses. You do not have to use your individual benefits and coverage to cover those costs.
  • Using recorded statements out of context. Sometimes, a workers’ compensation claims adjustor will try to use statements made while an employee is in the hospital or under the effects of medication to lessen the claim amount. These are not statements admissible for use in a claim. Take action quickly if you suspect your compensation claim does not cover the true scope of your injury.

An Orange County Law Firm that Delivers

Employers don’t always follow the letter of the law when it comes to workers’ compensation. They may try to dissuade you from filing a claim, even though it’s illegal for them to do so. Even worse, they may try to replace you while you’re on medical leave.

Avoid workers’ compensation difficulties by hiring a law firm with over three decades of experience in practicing worker’s compensation law. We’ll make sure your employers comply with regulations and make your claims process as smooth as possible. We can even help you pursue a third party personal injury claim to account for your pain and suffering. Whether you are in Orange County, Riverside, or San Bernardino, to get started with a free initial consultation, contact us today.