Workplace injuries impact California workers of all ages, education levels, and industries. Each year, injured workers suffer long-term, devastating consequences that affect nearly every aspect of their lives. In 2019, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 2.8 million work-related injuries, most commonly in the form of overexertion, falls, being struck by moving objects or equipment, and motor vehicle accidents. The same year, over 5,000 workers died due to their workplace injuries, with one fatality occurring every 99 minutes. The economic impact of disabling workplace injuries amounts to over $55 billion paid annually in workers’ compensation claims.
If you have experienced an injury on the jobsite or while performing tasks for your employer, you have the right to recover fair compensation for the damages you incurred. However, a claim must meet certain requirements and statutes of limitations to remain valid by the workers’ compensation court. The process of filing a claim can be confusing and intimidating, and it is often made even more difficult by employers and insurance companies doing everything in their power to avoid providing compensation. Your first question when confronted with this process is likely, “Who is covered under workers’ compensation?”
Consider the information below to learn more about workers’ compensation in California and determine whether you qualify to receive benefits for your workplace injury. In order to fulfill all requirements and prepare your claim according to state and federal law, you need legal representation from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. A skilled workers’ compensation lawyer offers an impressive record of results, enabling you to pursue your claim with confidence. Your attorney will advocate for your rights and aggressively pursue your claim to bring you the compensation you earned.
California Workers’ Compensation Law
Federal law requires that employers maintain a reasonably safe environment for their employees and affords legal recourse for injured workers when their employers fail to take these steps. Unfortunately, even when employers adhere to outlined safety standards and take proactive steps to prevent hazards, injuries can and do occur. Injuries are especially prevalent in industries that necessitate prolonged periods of physical labor, repetitive motion tasks, and work with heavy equipment. As a result, the construction, manufacturing, agricultural, and transportation industries are the industries in which workers most often experience debilitating injuries and workplace fatalities.
Under California workers’ compensation law, the system awards benefits to injured workers based on a no-fault system. In contrast with personal injury claims, workers’ compensation claims do not require proof of negligence to submit a valid claim. Even if the worker’s actions contributed to the accident, workers compensation claims are available to workers who meet the legal requirements. There is also no predetermined list of injuries, illnesses, or disabling conditions that qualify for benefits. After you have established the validity of your claim and that your injury occurred at work, you can receive medical benefits, temporary or permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits, or death benefits for surviving dependents.
California Workers’ Compensation Helps Both Workers and Employers
Authorities developed the California workers’ compensation system to offer protection to both employees and their employers. The system consists of a trade-off that provides guaranteed, limited coverage for an injured employee in exchange for relinquishing their right to sue their employer for damages outside of the workers’ compensation claim process. Before the current system took effect, injured workers could sue their employers for medical treatment expenses and lost wages that resulted from workplace injuries.
The previous process often took years to reach settlement or complete litigation. The delay left many injured workers with exorbitant medical bills and no form of income to help provide payments. With workers’ compensation laws in place, employees can seek timely reimbursement for medical expenses and lost income. Meanwhile, employers can provide this compensation without paying for it out of pocket.
Who Is Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?
To prepare a valid claim and receive workers’ compensation benefits, you must meet three primary eligibility requirements:
- Your employer must have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Most employers are required to obtain workers’ compensation coverage, but the law can vary between states. The insurance requirement depends on several factors, including the type of business, the number of workers it employs, and the type of work the employees perform. In California, any employer with more than one employee must provide workers’ compensation coverage.
Failure to provide workers’ compensation coverage results in the issuing of a stop order that prohibits employees from performing their duties until the employer acquires coverage. Neglecting to observe this order can lead to fines of up to $100,000, 60 days imprisonment in county jail, or both. Employers with workers’ compensation coverage must post a legal notice in a conspicuous location on the jobsite describing this coverage and will receive fines for violating this law.
- You must be an employee. The California Labor Code defines an employee as an individual working in the service of an employer under any form of contract of hire, appointment, or apprenticeship. This contract may be implied or expressly stated, in oral or written form. In addition, the employment may be lawful or unlawful.
Generally, independent contractors, such as consultants or freelancers, are not employees under the law. However, even if you are an independent contractor, you may have the ability to qualify as an employee depending on the level of control you exercise over your work and other aspects of the relationship you hold with the company. Volunteers typically do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits because they do not receive payment for their work, but some organizations do have the option of covering volunteer workers.
- Your injury must be work-related.
If you sustained an injury on the jobsite or while performing tasks for the financial benefit of your employer, your injury is work-related. Examples of work-related injuries include a pre-existing back injury aggravated due to repetitive motion in a warehouse job, carpal tunnel syndrome that develops from typing responsibilities, or illness that arises because of exposure to toxic chemicals present on a jobsite.
Injuries occurring while on break or participating in a company-sponsored event are usually not work-related. In addition, injuries incurred while under the influence of drugs and alcohol or engaging in a physical altercation with another person are usually not work-related injuries.
Who Is Exempt from Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
If you are one of the types of workers below, you are typically exempt from workers’ compensation coverage:
- Domestic workers, including housekeepers or childcare workers
- Agricultural workers on small farms
- Loaned or leased workers, such as temporary workers hired through a staffing agency
- Casual or seasonal workers
- Undocumented immigrant workers
Why You Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Legal support from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is crucial to ensure your claim is accurate, adheres to all federal and state guidelines, and proceeds in a timely manner within the statutes of limitation. Unfortunately, at any point during the workers’ compensation claims process, you may encounter a variety of issues that undermine or stall your claim. For example, your employer may argue against the validity of your claim, try to persuade you not to file, or even retaliate against you. An attorney can help you prepare a retaliation case if your employer harasses you, demotes you, reduces your pay, changes your responsibilities, subjects you to unwarranted disciplinary action, or terminates your position.
If workers’ compensation court denies your claim, an attorney can help you file an appeal and navigate the complex appeals process. Legal assistance is necessary to determine if you qualify for an appeal and help you understand what to expect at each stage of the procedure. In most cases, the court does not allow you to submit additional evidence for your claim beyond your initial filing, making it crucial to build a compelling case from the very beginning. The most common reason for losing an appeal is failure to secure a workers’ compensation attorney to prepare a case supported by proper evidence. Ensure the strength and validity of your claim at the start of the process by hiring an attorney as soon as you sustain a workplace injury.
Contact English, Lloyd & Armenta Today
If you have experienced a workplace injury or lost a loved one due to the severity of an injury they sustained while working, contact English, Lloyd & Armenta immediately. We will examine the details of your case and help you determine if you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. We have built over three decades of experience delivering Coachella Valley clients justice and compensation for workplace injuries. Most importantly, we understand how employment laws work and can effectively negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to bring you the results you deserve, even in cases involving complex injuries.
For a free consultation, contact English, Lloyd & Armenta today by submitting our individual contact form. We will provide you with the highest quality of legal representation and aggressively advocate for you throughout every step of the workers’ compensation process. With our assistance, you can recover fair compensation for your injuries so you can focus on your recovery rather than engaging in lengthy battles with your employer’s insurance company.