According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 2.8 million nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses occurred in 2019. Workers also die from the severity of their injuries, with 5,333 fatalities recorded during 2019, a statistic that amounts to one death every 99 minutes. With workplace injuries happening so frequently, often leading to devastating consequences, it is important to understand the common causes of these injuries so you can prevent them. The law requires employers to provide a reasonably safe, healthy working environment and offers legal recourse for workers when their employers fail to adhere to these safety standards. However, even when employers make every effort to keep their workplace free from hazards, injuries still occur.
If you suffer a workplace injury, you have the right to pursue compensation for the damages you incurred during treatment and recovery. Unfortunately, navigating the workers’ compensation system can be confusing, frustrating, and overwhelming, especially if your employer argues against the validity of your claim. Learn more about common work-related injuries by reviewing the information below, then pursue representation by a California workers’ compensation attorney. Legal representation can help you obtain the fair compensation you deserve, even for claims stalled by your employer’s insurance company.
Workers’ Compensation Law in California
Workers’ compensation law outlines specific requirements, statutes of limitation, and benefits available to workers injured while on the jobsite or completing tasks for their employer’s business. Understanding workers’ compensation law is crucial to ensure you can obtain benefits while recovering from your injury.
In the state of California, the law operates by what is known as a no-fault system, meaning your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance must pay the claim regardless of who caused a workplace injury. Unlike personal injury claims, you can pursue workers’ compensation claims without demonstrating negligence on the part of your employer. Your claim remains valid even if your own behavior directly contributed to your injury.
Your Rights as a Worker
Under California’s workers’ compensation law, you are afforded several legal rights as an employee, such as:
- The right to file a workers’ compensation claim for any injury or illness you sustain
- The right to visit a qualified physician and receive medical treatment for your injury
- The right to hire a lawyer to represent you throughout the claims process
- The right to return to the position you held before your injury if your physician gives you clearance to return to work
- The right to pursue disability compensation if you cannot medically return to work due to your injury, whether temporarily or permanently
- The right to appeal decisions made by your employer, your employer’s insurance company, or the workers’ compensation court
You also reserve the right to refuse certain offers or requests made by your employer. For example, if your employer tries to persuade you not to file a claim or tries to convince you to utilize your own health insurance when paying for treatment, you have the legal right to refuse. Injured workers must be able to pursue workers’ compensation without fear of retaliation, and it is illegal for employers to harass you, punish you, or otherwise cause difficulties for you because you choose to file a claim. Any attempts on the part of your employer to prevent you from exercising your rights will result in legal penalties.
What Are the Top 10 Workplace Injuries?
While every case is different, there are certain injuries that occur frequently in the workplace. The ranking of these injuries varies depending on the industry in which they occur, but construction, manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, and agricultural industries consistently involve the highest number of workplace injuries and injury-related fatalities. The top 10 workplace injuries include:
- Overexertion with outside sources. Lifting, holding, carrying, pushing, pulling, or throwing objects encompassed 23.5% of workplace injuries in 2018 and cost insurance companies $13.7 billion in workers’ compensation claims.
- Falls on same level. Same-level falls can occur for a variety of reasons, such as wet floors or unmarked obstacles. They accounted for 19.2% of workplace injuries and cost $11.2 billion.
- Struck by object or equipment. One of the leading causes of fatalities in the construction injury involves being struck by moving objects or equipment. This injury type comprised 10% of workplace injuries and cost $5.9 billion.
- Falls to lower level. Falling from a height to a surface below, including while working on a ladder or roof, made up 10% of workplace injuries and cost $5.9 billion.
- Other exertions or bodily reactions. This type of injury occurs when a worker is engaged in an activity requiring excessive motion or strenuous effort. These injuries comprised 7.2% of workplace injuries and cost $4.2 billion.
- Roadway incidents with motor vehicles. The number one cause of workplace injury-related fatalities, roadway incidents with motor vehicles constituted 5.5% of all workplace injuries and cost $3.2 billion.
- Slip or trip without fall. Occurring due to a variety of factors, such as wet floors or uneven surfaces, slip, and trips that do not result in a fall caused 3.9% of workplace injuries and cost $2.3 billion.
- Caught between objects or equipment. This type of injury involves a worker whose body is caught between, squeezed, compressed, or crushed by an object or piece of equipment. These injuries were responsible for 3.9% of workplace injuries and cost $2.1 billion.
- Struck against object or equipment. Sustained when a worker bumps into, steps on, kicks, or is pushed or thrown against an object or piece of equipment, these injuries consist of 3.5% of workplace injuries and cost $2 billion.
- Repetitive motion injuries. Common in jobs such as manufacturing assembly lines, repetitive motion injuries occur when workers perform the same actions repeatedly or continuously throughout the workday. Actions often include twisting, reaching, climbing, bending, kneeling, or crawling. These injuries accounted for 2.6% of workplace injuries and cost $1.5 billion.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
As a result of the workplace injuries you sustained, your workers’ compensation attorney can seek the following five types of benefits:
- Medical benefits. Medical benefits provide reimbursement for expenses involved in the treatment of workplace injury, such as surgical procedures, medication, travel costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Typically, the employer chooses the doctor or medical facility the worker can visit within the first 30 days of beginning treatment. It is also possible to collect compensation for future medical care when necessary. Any delay in treatment that results from an employer refusing to cover medical expenses makes the employer financially responsible for up to $10,000 of treatment.
- Temporary disability benefits. Workers’ compensation awards temporary disability benefits when an injury results in missing more than three workdays or requires hospitalization. Temporary disability functions as wage replacement and consists of two-thirds of the earnings a worker would have received during an average week before sustaining their injury. These benefits require documentation from the approved medical professional that the injury prevents work. Temporary disability benefits can last a period of up to two years but no longer, even when the worker cannot return to work.
- Permanent disability benefits. Permanent disability benefits exist for long-term or significantly life-altering injuries that prevent the employee from returning to the workforce. Workers’ compensation calculates permanent disability based on the worker’s age, health, occupation, and percentage of disability. Depending on these factors, benefits can range from under $1,000 to more than $260,000. A worker suffering 70% disability or higher may receive a life pension in addition to permanent disability benefits. If the worker can eventually return to work and perform tasks while disabled, the employer can modify the job expectations to retain the worker if they have the capacity and desire to do so.
- Supplemental job displacement benefits. Supplemental job displacement benefits cover vocational training or rehabilitation to injured workers when they cannot return to their prior position or must enter a new industry due to their injury. These benefits cover up to $10,000 and can take the form of cash instead of training or vouchers that assist in the job search. Vouchers can also apply if the employer does not offer the worker an opportunity to return to their previous position within 60 days of achieving the “maximum medical improvement” after recovery.
- Death benefits. Death benefits provide compensation to surviving family members dependent on a worker who died because of their workplace injury. Parties entitled to death benefits often include individuals like spouses and children. Death benefits apply to deaths resulting from injuries sustained not only on the jobsite but also while performing tasks directed by the employer or related to work. Workers’ compensation calculated death benefits according to the number of dependents, typically beginning one year after the date of death.
Exercise Your Right to Workers’ Compensation Today
If you or a loved one has experienced a work-related injury, contact English, Lloyd & Armenta immediately. For over 30 years, our expert team has delivered Coachella Valley clients justice and fair compensation for their workplace injuries. We have the legal knowledge and extensive resources required to navigate the workers’ compensation system, prepare strong claims, and successfully negotiate with insurance companies to bring you the best possible outcome for your case. Our decades of combined experience have given us an in-depth understanding of state and federal employment laws and the common tactics insurance companies utilize in an attempt to ignore or minimize your injuries.
Contact English, Lloyd & Armenta for a free consultation via our contact form. When you hire the services of our premiere workers’ compensation team, we will do everything in our power to protect your rights and aggressively advocate for you. We have helped guide thousands of California clients through the worker’s compensation process, allowing them to recover restitution for their damages so they can focus on healing.