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