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If you or somebody you love sustains a workplace injury or illness, you should be entitled to recover workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation system in California is a “no-fault” system, which means that an employee is entitled to benefits regardless of who caused the injury. There are very few circumstances in which a person is not eligible for workers’ comp benefits after sustaining an injury at work. However, workers’ compensation insurance carriers and employers can be incredibly difficult to deal with, and it may be necessary to secure assistance from a skilled Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer to help with your case.
The absolute best time to seek assistance from a workers’ compensation attorney in California is as soon as you have sustained a workplace injury or illness. An attorney with experience handling these cases will be in the best position to guide you through this entire process in order to secure full compensation for your losses.
Your first step in this process will be to seek medical assistance as soon as possible after your injury. This is recommended even if your work injury is relatively minor. You should also report the incident to your employer as soon as possible and no later than 30 days from the date the injury occurs or 30 days from when your doctor tells you that you have sustained a work-related injury or illness.
By working with an attorney early in the process, you can be sure that your claim will be filed on time. However, even if you do not secure an attorney right after your injury, there are various reasons why you may need to consider doing so. This could include:
You should also consider working with an attorney if you feel uncomfortable handling your claim in any way. This process can become complicated, particularly if you think the employer or insurance carrier is looking for a reason to deny your benefits. If the insurance carrier pushes back on your claim, you will need to be in constant contact with your lawyer. Insurance carriers will typically do whatever they can to avoid making payments in these cases.
A workers’ compensation hearing is not always going to be necessary. However, if the insurance carrier or employer denies a claim or is not willing to pay enough to handle your expenses, your case may need to go through the appeals process and possibly escalate your case to a workers’ comp hearing. The first step in the workers’ compensation appeals process in California is a mediation hearing, which is an informal conference. In these situations, a neutral third party will attempt to help resolve the dispute between you and your insurance carrier.
However, if mediation is unsuccessful, the case will need to go before a workers’ compensation judge to be heard. At a hearing, you and your insurance carrier will have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony to the judge. After the hearing is completed, the judge will review all the evidence and issue a written decision. If you do not agree with the judge’s decision, you will be able to appeal to the First District Court of Appeals.