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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.
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:
Source: CHSWC 2015 Annual Report
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.