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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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Workers’ compensation is a right for almost all employees. 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.

Suffering an injury on the job is no accident. Workplace injuries happen most often in environments with health and safety hazards, such as slippery floors or unsafe equipment. It is an employer’s legal duty to provide a safe work environment. Failure to do so, resulting in worker injury, is negligence. Thanks to the California workers’ compensation system, you don’t need to prove negligence to obtain compensation. You can qualify for benefits automatically.

If you suffered a work injury in Orange County or lost a loved one in a workplace accident, contact the workers compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo. We can assist with workers’ compensation claims, negotiating with insurance companies for maximum benefits. You may also be eligible for greater recovery through a personal injury claim if someone else’s negligence or recklessness caused your injury. Contact one of our Orange County workers compensation lawyers for a free work injury consultation.

Workers’ Compensation Laws in Orange County

Workplace injuries are very common in California and injured employees should know their rights to workers’ compensation. In California, every employer must carry workers’ compensation coverage, even if the company only has one employee. Workers’ compensation offers relief to injured employees by providing immediate medical expense coverage, as well as, weekly benefits until the employee is healthy enough to return to work. The workers’ compensation system is complex, and a personal injury attorney can be a fantastic asset who will help you navigate the claims process. If you encounter any issues with your workers’ compensation claim or your benefits don’t fully cover your losses after an injury, your attorney can help you decide your next best options.

In some cases, an injured employee may have the option of taking legal action against a negligent employer or supervisor who allowed a dangerous condition to persist in the workplace. In other cases, a third party may be to blame for the injured employee’s damages. For example, a construction worker heading to a job site suffers serious injuries when another driver hits his car. In this case, the injured worker would still qualify for workers’ compensation since his injury occurred within the scope of his job duties, but he could also take legal action against the at-fault driver for additional compensation.

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

Common Causes of Workers Compensation Claims

  • Overexertion
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Being struck by an object
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Fires and explosions
  • Exposure to harmful environments or substances

Common Industries for Workers’ Compensation Claims

Warehouse and Industrial Work – People who work in warehouse and freight/transportation industries are often exposed to detrimental respiratory conditions like asbestos or dank working environments. However, the most common warehouse injury results from using the forklift improperly, or if the forklift is not maintained correctly. According to OSHA, there are roughly 34,900 serious forklift injuries every year, 84 of which are fatal. Most forklift injuries occur during loading and unloading, and around 42% of forklift injuries are a result of the forklift tipping over.

Construction Workers – Another common job for injuries is in the construction industry. There are roughly 6.5 million construction workers in the United States, and fatality rates for this industry are higher than the national average of any other industry. Though less serious injuries occur quite frequently, like sprains, breaks, and repetitive motion injuries, the occurrence of fatal injuries in the construction industry is high because there are more ways to be seriously injured. The most common serious or fatal injuries are usually due to falls from heights, scaffolding collapses, and electric shocks.

Industries That Work With Chemicals – Employees in certain industries can expose themselves to hundreds of chemicals on any given day and if absorbed through the skin, they can cause significant illnesses and even death. Though it is hard to measure the exact amount of incidents per year, OSHA estimates that nearly 860,000 illnesses from occupational chemical exposure happen annually. While there are many occupations in which employees expose themselves to chemicals regularly, some of the biggest industries for injuries are nurses and hospital workers, manufacturing plants, mining, cleaning industries, and even office workers. The most common chemical injuries are rashes/burns, respiratory injuries, and brain injuries from inhalation.

What Do I Do If I’m Injured At Work?

Get Appropriate Care – If you are seriously injured, your first goal should always be to seek medical assistance. If the injury developed slowly over time, seek medical care as soon as you notice the injury. 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.

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.

File a Claim Report – While most basic steps are the same from company to company, it is important to understand your company’s policies so you can prepare for the unexpected. 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. Make sure to keep track of ALL related information. Make copies of incident reports, medical reports, and communication between you and your employer, as well as you and any other 3rd party. By everything, we mean keep the gas receipts associated with your travel to and from treatment centers. You may be able to recoup many of the expenses associated with your injury.

Claim Denial and Adjudication in Orange County

Workers’ compensation claims may be denied for different reasons. Here are a few of the most commonly cited reasons:

  • The insurance company believes your injury is not covered by the policy.
  • There is insufficient evidence that your injury was caused on the job or as a result of a workplace hazard.
  • They believe you failed to take the necessary steps to secure compensation.
  • You filed a claim after you were discharged from a company.
  • You failed to provide the documentation and information necessary for the company to process the claim.

Filing for Adjudication in California

In the state of California, you must file an “Application for Adjudication of Claim” to have your situation heard by a judge for further evaluation. If you believe your claim was wrongfully denied, filing this form creates a case with the local Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. You must file the application in your resident county or in the county where you suffered the injury.

After the application has been filed and presented to the appropriate parties, you or your attorney will need to make sure you receive a notice of filing. Keep the assigned case number on hand, as you will need it for any further documentation regarding the case.

The next step to take after receiving notice is to file a “Declaration of Readiness to Proceed.” This declaration is a request for a hearing in front of a judge. You, your attorney (optional, but recommended), and your insurance administrator will sit down with a judge during this hearing and try to reach a settlement. If no agreeable settlement can be met, the judge will schedule a time for trial with another judge.

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.

Orange County Work Accident Statistics

If you have suffered a workplace injury, you’re not alone. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace accidents took 5,190 worker lives in 2016. This is an average of 100 deaths per week, or more than 14 deaths per day.

Thousands of others suffered serious and debilitating injuries. In California alone, private industry employers reported 466,600 occupational injuries in 2016. Here are a few other worker injuries and workers’ compensation statistics:

  • In 2016, 376 employees in California passed away from work-related injuries. This was the second-highest worker fatality rate in the United States.
  • Transportation accidents are the leading cause of worker death in California – a fact that has remained consistent every year since the start of workers’ compensation reporting.
  • Transportation incidents took 145 worker lives in CA, assaults/acts of violence took 77, falls took 64, contact with objects/equipment 58, exposure to harmful substances took 20, and fires and explosions took nine lives.
  • Orange County (along with LA County), reported 109 worker deaths in 2016. More employees died on the job in this region in 2016 than any year since 2011.
  • The majority of deceased workers in California in 2016 were white (43%), followed by Hispanic (39%) Asian (9%), and African American (7%). The youngest worker to die on the job was 22 (Alexis Cedillo-Osorio). The oldest was 66 (Jack Rafael Ruiz).
  • The vast majority of deceased workers in California in 2016 (93%) identified as male. Women are less likely to suffer fatal injuries at work, but more likely to suffer repetitive motion and musculoskeletal injuries.

Every year, workplace accidents take more lives. Employers, product manufacturers, and third parties continuously put employee lives at risk through acts of negligence, recklessness, or malicious intent to harm. If you currently have a work-related injury, contact Orange County work injury lawyer. Hiring a Orange County workers’ compensation attorney can help you successfully navigate the claims process.

Answering Your OC Workers’ Compensation FAQs

Count on us for straightforward legal counsel and the latest information on workplace accidents and workers’ comp claims. Use these FAQs to help get you started with the workers’ compensation process:

  • When should I file for workers’ comp? File a workers’ comp claim after any type of workplace injury or illness, no matter the circumstances.
  • How long do I have to file a workers’ comp claim? You have one year from the date of your accident to file.
  • How do I file a claim in Orange County? Notify your supervisor of the accident within 30 days. Your employer should help you fill out and file Form DWC 1.

The Orange County workers compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo are available around the clock to take client calls and answer questions you may have about OC workers’ compensation and workplace accidents. We know how to answer both common and case-specific questions, supported by in-depth knowledge of the law and subject matter. Contact us today.

Common Tactics Used to Avoid Paying Workers’ Compensation

  • 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.

Hire A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

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.