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Is There Legal Recourse for Late Workers’ Comp Checks?

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Injured workers rely on benefit checks for the costs of daily living. Workers who cannot return to full-time work because of job-related injuries or illnesses will receive temporary disability (TD) benefits, partial disability benefits, or permanent disability benefits through the California Workers’ Compensation Program. When a workers’ comp check is late, the injured worker may not be able to pay for utilities, food, and other necessities. Find out what to do if this happens to you.

About Workers’ Comp Benefits in California

In California, a worker’s first TD check is due within 14 days after the employer learns of a job-related injury or illness that prevents the worker from doing his or her job. The injured worker should receive prompt payment from the claims administrator, along with a letter that explains how the administration calculated the payment. TD benefits replace lost wages when a worker has to miss three or more days of work, stay hospitalized overnight, and does not have the option of taking other work from the same employer during recovery.

Benefits for temporary disability include total disability (TTD) payments if you cannot work at all during recovery, or temporary partial disability (TPD) payments if you can still work but you receive less money while recovering. In general, TD benefits equal two-thirds of the workers’ gross wages lost during recovery. Workers cannot receive more or less than the maximum or minimum weekly amount according to state laws.

You should receive regular TD benefits every 14 days as long as you are eligible. If your first check does not come within 14 business days, or if subsequent checks are late, you have the right to contact the claims administrator. Delayed payments sometimes occur if the administrator cannot tell if workers’ compensation insurance covers your injury, or whether the injury requires TD benefits. Delays during injury investigation can last as long as 90 days.

Potential Recourse If Your Checks Are Late

If something delays an initial workers’ compensation claim at administration, the worker should receive a letter notifying of the delay, explaining why, and requesting any further information the claims administrator may need to move the process along. The worker should also receive an estimate of when the administrator will come to a decision. If there are additional delays, the worker will receive additional explanation letters.

If you are experiencing a delay in workers’ compensation payment without reasonable explanation, contact your claims administrator using the information you should have received on your initial workers’ comp claim letter. If you don’t have this information, ask your employer to get it for you. State your issue to the administrator and find out why your payments are late..

In some cases, workers can receive additional payment “rewards” for workers’ comp check delays. This can happen with or without a reasonable excuse for the delay. If the claims administrator sends a late payment and you filed your claim more than 14 days before payment was due, you could be eligible for an additional 10% of the payment. You could receive 25% of additional payment on each late payment (up to $10,000) if the administrator had no reasonable excuse for the delay. For help communicating with the CA workers’ compensation administrators, contact an attorney.