California Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault system for injuries connected with your employment, whether they are specific injuries or an injury that developed over time due to your repetitive job duties. Your employer is required to pay for Workers Compensation Insurance to cover all its employees. You are entitled to medical treatment for your injuries, disability payments while you are unable to work, permanent disability benefits if you do not fully recover from your injury and other benefits. You are not required to be represented by an attorney to make a claim but remember that your employer and its Insurance Company will be represented, by an experienced claims adjuster and probably, also, by a competent attorney. In case of a dispute, you too should be properly represented or you will be at a serious disadvantage.
How do I know if I have a workers compensation claim?
If you answer yes to one or more of the following questions, you may have a viable worker's compensation claim. Please contact us for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
1) Did you suffer an injury at work?
2) Were you involved in a car accident while on the job?
3) Do you work long hours?
4) Do you have a physically strenuous job?
5) Do you have pain or discomfort anywhere in your body?
6) Are you stressed or anxious?
7) Do you often cry due to stress or harassment at work?
8) Have you sought medical treatment for physical pain, stress, anxiety, depression, or high blood pressure?
9) Do you have a pre-existing injury that has gotten worse while working?
10) Has your employer failed to provide a comfortable chair or proper equipment?
11) Are your Workers’ Compensation benefits being denied or delayed?
12) Were you discriminated against or terminated after reporting an injury?
Can filing a workers’ compensation claim get me fired?
Firing, cutting your hours or any other retaliation for filing a worker's compensation claim is against the law. If your employer retaliates in any way for the fact that you filed a claim, you could be entitled to an increase in benefits.
Can future employers find out if I filed a claim?
It is against the law for any employer to inquire about any prior workers' compensation claims or try and search for your claims background. This applies to at the time of hiring and while you are employed.
If I file a workers’ compensation case, will I still get paid?
The short answer is yes. If you are too hurt to work, or if your employer can’t or won’t accommodate any work restrictions a doctor provides due to your injury, either the insurance company or the State of California will pay you 2/3 of your gross earnings tax-free. This system is in place so that you can recover from your injuries and still earn an income in the process. You will NOT have to pay any of that back and may still receive a settlement for your claim.
How much does it cost to hire an attorney to handle my claim?
Filing a claim does not cost you anything up front or during your case. Your attorney will get 15% if and only if he or she gets you a settlement. Everything from legal work, doctor bills, MRIs, X-Rays, physical therapy and monetary benefits while you are injured are at no cost to you.
What will I have to do when I file a workers compensation case?
Your main responsibility is to see a doctor for evaluation and treatment for your injuries, which your attorney will refer you to. It is possible that the insurance company will ask to take your deposition. Finally, should your case go to trial, you may need to be available to testify. However, very few cases end up going to trial.
What type of settlement can I get through a workers’ compensation claim?
Your settlement depends on a variety of factors, however, the biggest determining factor will be the extent of your injuries. The worker's compensation system is designed to compensate you for how much your injury has disabled you. Therefore, much of the value of your case will be based on your disability, which a doctor will help determine. Future medical treatment necessary for your injuries also helps determine the value of your settlement. Regarding your future medical care and treatment, you will have the choice to either have the insurance company pay the future medical treatment for your injuries for the rest of your life, or have them buy out that projected cost in a lump sum settlement.
What type of injuries does workers' compensation cover?
There are two types of Workers’ Compensation Injuries, as follows:
1) SPECIFIC INJURY – this type of injury is typically caused by a “specific event” inflicting certain injuries to you or your body. Examples of this type of injury include but are not limited to the following:
a) Lifting a heavy item
b) Slip and/or fall at the workplace or while on the clock
c) Auto accident which occurred while working
d) Sudden pain to any body part while performing a work activity
e) Injuries arising from the use of any equipment at work or while on the clock including but not limited to machinery, equipment, cleaning supplies, and handling of any work materials.
f) Unsafe work conditions, including tripping hazards, uncovered holes, wet floors, heat exposure, falling inventory, electric shock, use of forklifts or machinery can also cause specific injuries if it occurred at work.
2) CONTINUOUS TRAUMA INJURY – this type of injury is not caused by a “specific event” but instead is caused by doing repetitive duties, over a period of time, resulting in injuries to the body. These types of injuries are usually unnoticed and go undiagnosed unless you are seen by a doctor. Examples of this type of injury include but are not limited to the following:
a) Development of symptoms or pain to fingers, wrists, arms, elbows or shoulders while performing data entry at a computer.
b) Development of symptoms of pain to neck or back as a result of sitting at an uncomfortable passion for long periods of time.
c) Development of symptoms or pain to back, legs, knees or feet as a result of having to stand up for long periods of time at work.
d) Development of symptoms or pain to any part of your body as a result of performing repetitive duties including but not limited to lifting, bending, stooping, kneeling, overhead reaching, grasping, gripping, pulling, pushing, sitting, standing, etc.
Workers’ Compensation injuries are not limited to only physical injuries but also include the following:
1) Depression, anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric conditions related to stress, physical injuries, assaults or other events.
2) Hypertension, high blood pressure, heart attack, heart disease and stoke that may be related to physically strenuous work environments, stressful work environments, work deadlines or physical injuries.
3) Fibromyalgia due to repetitive activities and stress.
4) Hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise.
5) Rheumatoid arthritis aggravated by physical injury and/or stress.
6) Degenerative conditions of the knees, back, shoulders or other body areas due to performance of repetitive activities such as heavy or awkward lifting.
7) Hand, wrist and arm ailments, including tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, from repeated hand and arm movements.
8) Lung damage or neurological problems from exposure to fumes and chemicals.
9) Vision loss
10) Internal organ issues due to exposure to toxic chemicals/materials
11) Sleep disturbance due to pain
Some workers suffer from multiple injuries. Regardless of your problem, we can advise you on what benefits you may be entitled to. Please contact us for a free consultation.