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California answers some questions about workers' comp

California lawmakers write laws and regulations, which other state employees must then attempt to explain to affected residents. Because laws are typically written in difficult-to-understand legalese, in many cases the explanations of laws require explanations, too. Legalese gives way to bureaucratic jargon which can be just as difficult to understand.

Sometimes we see the state attempting to break through the communications barriers it erects with FAQ (frequently asked question) sections on state websites and other pages on which plain and clear language is used to explain laws and regulations, such as those governing California's safety net of workers' compensation.

If you go the Department of Industrial Relations site, you can find one of these attempts at clear communication and decide for yourself how effective it is. The page contains questions and answers about what types of injuries and illnesses can be considered eligible for workers' comp benefits.

Here's an example of a question posed: "An employee drives to work, parks their car in the company parking lot and walks across the lot. In the lot, the employee is struck by a car driven by another employee commuting to work. Are the resulting injuries work-related?"

Now take a guess at the answer. Many people would expect that injuries sustained on company property as you walk across the parking lot to work would be considered work-related. If so, here's an unpleasant surprise in the state's answer to the question: "Injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents occurring on company parking lots while employees are commuting to and from work are not work-related."

What about an injury sustained in a fall in a company shower after work? If the worker is showering to remove work-related contamination, for instance, then the injuries would be considered work-related, the state says. But if the worker is simply showering to clean up before a date or before driving home, the injuries in the fall are not considered work-related.

Experienced Coachella Valley workers' comp attorneys know the law, understand the art of communication and even more important, understand how to fight for an employee's earned and deserved benefits.

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