Workers’ Compensation Is A Benefit And A Right
California workers’ compensation was enacted to provide benefits to injured employees due to their work. Its goal is to provide employees with prompt medical care to cure or relieve the effects of work injuries and prevent injured workers (in almost all cases) from filing lawsuits for damages against their employer.
The law provides that the employee should be paid temporary disability indemnity for up to two years when the employee is getting medical treatment and is certified by a doctor as unable to work. It provides for medical treatment for life, without deductibles and copays, to address the effects of the injury.
Workers’ compensation also provides for permanent disability payments based on a complex statutory formula system based on analysis by a specially trained physician. It may also provide a substantial voucher to pay for retraining if an employee with a permanent disability cannot return to the job.
How Workers’ Compensation Is Funded
All employers are required to provide coverage for their employees to obtain these benefits when necessary. Normally, this is done when your employer purchases a policy of workers’ compensation insurance.
Some very large employers, as well as government entities, are allowed to provide the benefits directly without purchasing insurance. Either way, these benefits have been secured in advance of someone being injured. Therefore, an employee should not feel hesitant about requesting these benefits when needed. Nor should an employee be afraid to file a claim for benefits. Labor Code 132a provides for severe penalties for discriminating against an employee for filing a claim or making known an intention to file a claim.
A No-Fault Insurance To Cover Your Needs After A Work Accident
Unlike bodily injury lawsuits in civil court, workers’ compensation benefits are awarded without regard to fault. If you had an injury on the job because of a mistake you made, it does not matter: You are still entitled to recover benefits. I am attorney Howard J. Stevens, and I once saw a claim from a construction worker who sawed himself off a beam while building a house, but that was not a bar to recovery of his compensation.
It also is true that the employer does not have to be negligent in any way for benefits to be awarded. Neither your negligence nor that of your employers will be considered when determining whether to grant this benefit to you.
When Are You Eligible For Compensation?
In order to receive benefits, you must be an employee when the injury occurs. This statement sounds simple, but it is not. Employers often try to classify workers as “independent contractors” to escape liability for their injuries. However, the law has an acid test to determine who is and who is not an employee, and each case turns on its facts.
Even if you are clearly an employee, the injury must have arisen out of the employment and must have occurred in the course of your employment. For example, normal commutes to and from work are not covered (although there are numerous exceptions to that rule). Certain impairments may arise from work even if the health issue first arises off the job.
Disabling events such as a heart attack or stroke may occur at home but may have been caused in part by work stresses and may be eligible for indemnity and medical care. Again, each case turns on its facts and the legal implications of those facts may not be self-evident.
Sometimes, employees do not know that their employment caused or aggravated a disabling condition until after they stop working. Typical examples of this are illnesses that do not become evident until long after harmful exposure at work. Perhaps a doctor did not tell you of the possible connection to work until well into retirement.
Breathing disabilities and noise-induced hearing losses are typical examples. In such cases, you may still receive benefits if a knowledgeable lawyer develops the facts leading to your disease and properly presents them. If the insurance company denies your case for any reason, be sure to seek legal help before giving up.
Call To Learn More About Workers’ Compensation
Be aware that this information merely provides a general overview of how workers’ compensation works. Seek out customized legal advice for your situation from me, a certified San Diego attorney. At my firm, the Law Office of Howard J. Stevens, APC, I am prepared to review your case and give you specific guidance to help you obtain the funds you need to recover.