The workers’ compensation system is an invaluable resource for anyone injured at work in California. Every US state enforces different workplace injuries and workers’ compensation laws, and California’s are some of the strictest in the country. As a result, virtually every employer in the state must have workers’ compensation insurance and categorize employees and contractors accurately, providing benefits whenever legally required.

If you sustain an injury at work in California, you likely have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. Your employer is legally required to assist you with this process and may not interfere with your claim or retaliate against you. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance coverage, so an insurer may increase a policyholder’s premium rate if they have many employees consistently filing claims for work-related injuries. Employers cannot interfere with injured workers’ claims out of fear of increased insurance premiums or for any other reason.

What Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation?

California’s workers’ compensation law applies broadly to a wide range of injuries. To qualify for a workers’ compensation claim, an injury must occur in the victim’s workplace while performing work-related duties, or the injury must occur outside of the workplace while the victim is performing work-related duties elsewhere. Location does not necessarily matter as long as the victim was working when their injury occurred.

Conversely, if the victim was visiting their workplace for personal reasons or while off the clock, they may not qualify to file a workers’ compensation claim. It’s also possible for a workers’ compensation insurance carrier to deny a claim if the victim caused their own injury through a breach of company policy, a flagrant workplace safety violation, or if they caused the injury because they were illegally intoxicated at work.

What Benefits Can Workers’ Compensation Provide?

The workers’ compensation system aims to help injured workers recover as swiftly as possible while alleviating the economic impact of the inability to work. However, any significant work-related injury may require extensive immediate medical treatment, and the victim may not be able to work for days, weeks, or even many months until they recover. In California, workers’ compensation will generally cover all medical treatment costs the victim incurs and provide ongoing disability benefits while they recover and cannot work.

Regarding medical expenses, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier will likely provide a list of approved treatments. It will review a claimant’s treatment plan from their physician to determine if they require individualized or specialized care. Workers’ compensation insurance carriers are generally flexible in the treatments they will cover. Injured workers can typically expect full coverage for all costs related to healing their injuries and managing symptoms in recovery.

Disability benefits are more carefully restricted. The most a claimant can expect to receive in weekly disability benefits is about two-thirds of their average weekly wage for the year before their injury. For example, if the victim usually earns about $1,000 per week at work, they could receive about $700 per week in disability benefits. In most cases, weekly benefits continue for up to 104 weeks or until the claimant can return to work. It’s also possible to adjust benefits to spread over five years if the claimant does not need ongoing financial assistance. A claimant may also qualify for partial benefits that make up the difference of their lost earning capacity from a work-related injury.

Enhancing Recovery from a Work-Related Injury

Whenever a person suffers an injury at work in California, they are likely eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim to seek compensation for their damages. However, some of these victims may have grounds for further legal recourse and may enhance their recoveries with the help of experienced attorneys. In addition, if someone directly caused your recent work injury, either intentionally or negligently, you may have grounds to seek accountability for your damages with a personal injury claim.

California’s workers’ compensation laws usually prevent injured workers from suing their employers for injuries suffered on the job. There are exceptions to this, however. For example, if an employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance as required by California law, the injured employee can proceed directly with a personal injury claim if the employer bears liability for the injury. It’s also possible to have grounds to file a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury suit against a third party who causes a work injury.

The workers’ compensation claim process can potentially yield compensation swiftly if the claimant has legal counsel they can trust to guide them through the claim process. Further, if they have grounds for a civil action that may enhance their overall recovery, they will need an experienced attorney to help them take advantage of this potential.

Advantages of Legal Counsel in a California Workers’ Compensation Claim

California enforces some of the country’s most robust workers’ compensation laws, and injured workers must know their rights when securing compensation for their losses. Depending on how your work-related injury happened, you could have more grounds for legal recourse than you initially realized. An attorney can help you explore these options for recovery and determine the full breadth of damages you can seek from the party responsible for your injury.

California’s personal injury laws allow a plaintiff to seek full repayment of all their economic damages. For example, workers’ compensation can cover medical expenses and some lost income following a work-related injury, but a personal injury claim enables the victim to seek compensation for all other losses. As a result, you can potentially recover lost income and lost earning potential that workers’ compensation won’t cover, in addition to pain and suffering compensation that reflects the severity of your experience.

It’s understandable to want to maximize your benefits from a workers’ compensation claim, and you need legal counsel you can trust to make this happen. If you recently sustained an injury at work and are unsure what you can do to recover your losses from the incident, contact English Lloyd & Armenta to learn more about the legal services we offer and how we can assist you with your recovery efforts.