California enforces some of the most detailed workers’ compensation laws in the United States. Most people in all industries in California are covered by their employers’ workers’ compensation insurance. However, state law also requires insurance carriers to cover a wide range of work-related injuries and medical conditions. So, if you recently suffered any type of injury at work, you probably have many legal questions about your recovery, the benefits you can obtain through workers’ compensation, and how long those benefits will last.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney is an invaluable asset in your situation. While California’s workers’ compensation laws aim to provide substantial recovery options for those injured at work, filing a workers’ compensation claim is similar to filing any other type of insurance claim. Insurance companies have little incentive to help claimants secure large settlement payouts and generally look for reasons to offer lowball settlement offers or deny claims.
Working with an experienced attorney to file your claim for workers’ compensation benefits makes it easier to face the aftermath of a work injury. Your attorney’s legal representation also significantly reduces the chances of encountering unfair treatment or unreasonable delays in handling your claim. Additionally, your attorney will verify that you receive a fair settlement offer from the insurance carrier based on the terms of your policy. Finally, if you maximize the benefits possible through insurance but still face uncompensated losses, your attorney may be able to assist you in pursuing further legal recourse.
Requirements for Workers’ Compensation in California
If you are injured at work in California and are a covered employee under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy, you have the right to seek compensation for losses resulting from a workplace injury. As long as your injury occurred while you were performing work-related duties, you have the right to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
It is important to remember, however, that a workers’ compensation insurance carrier may deny a claim for benefits if their investigation reveals the claimant caused their own injury due to egregious negligence, criminal conduct of any kind, or a severe workplace safety violation. For example, if a serious injury occurs at work due to horseplay or intoxication, the injured employee may be denied workers’ compensation benefits due to their actions.
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help determine whether your recent injury qualifies for benefits. In addition, a good attorney can review your employer’s insurance policy and the details of how your injury occurred. This will also ensure you receive a fair settlement offer from the insurance company. Finally, if any questions arise concerning fault for your workplace injury, an experienced attorney will be a crucial asset for ensuring appropriate accountability for your damages.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Injured Workers
A successful workers’ compensation claim in California potentially yields two forms of compensation: medical expense coverage and compensation for lost income. An injured worker approved for benefits can typically expect their employer’s insurance carrier to cover the costs of any medical treatment they need immediately following their injury to help them heal and after initial recovery, to manage their symptoms. However, while workers’ compensation can provide broad coverage for the injured worker’s medical needs after a workplace injury, it may not cover all their losses.
Ongoing disability benefits are available to injured workers who face extended periods of inability to work due to their injuries. Some workplace injuries heal relatively quickly, and victims may only face a few weeks of lost wages. Others are more serious, and a victim may not be able to return to work for a very long time due to the nature of their injury. It is also possible they may not be able to return to work at all because of the severity of the injury and its permanent effects.
While workers’ compensation is typically robust in California, there are limits to the extent of benefits an injured worker can expect. Most claimants will qualify to receive weekly disability benefits for up to 104 weeks following their injury. Some claimants may elect to have these benefit payments spread over five years if they do not need uninterrupted weekly benefits. If a claimant suffered a severe injury, such as a burn or traumatic brain injury, their benefit period might be extended to 240 weeks.
California law only requires employers to carry short-term disability insurance for their employees. When an injured worker requires benefits beyond this, they may qualify to secure long-term disability benefits from their employer’s insurance carrier if the employer’s policy includes such coverage. When it does not, further disability benefits are possible through Social Security. It is also possible for an injured worker to have grounds for a personal injury claim in response to a workplace injury. For example, if a specific party caused their injury, they could seek compensation for any losses workers’ compensation won’t cover.
Finding Legal Representation for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
While hiring an attorney for your workers’ compensation claim is not technically required, doing so significantly increases your chances of success with the claim. Additionally, a good lawyer will help you explore any options for legal recourse you may have outside the workers’ compensation system. Finally, your legal team can help you maximize the benefits you receive from your claim before guiding you through subsequent legal proceedings that enhance your recovery.
When it comes to the time you may continue receiving benefits, the best way to extend the time your benefits will continue is by proving your injury resulted in long-term or permanent harm. Again, your attorney can potentially consult expert witnesses who can testify in support of your claim, providing professional insights into the scope and severity of your injury.
The attorneys at English Lloyd & Armenta have extensive experience representing injured workers in difficult workers’ compensation claims. We understand that you likely have many questions regarding how much you can expect in benefits and for how long. The sooner you speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney after a workplace injury, the sooner they can discern your best recovery options and address your legal needs. If you would like to discuss your case, contact English Lloyd & Armenta today and schedule a consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney you can trust with your case.