The right of all workers to access benefits through their employer’s workers’ compensation program is codified in the state labor code. If you were recently injured on the job, you may be wondering, “What are my rights under workers’ compensation in California?” We’ll explore that and more.

The Right to Medical Treatment

Because workers’ compensation deals with work-related injuries, medical treatments are often a top concern for anyone who files a claim. California workers have the right to medical treatments paid for by their workers’ compensation program.

Insurance providers have to respond to claims within the time limit, but workers don’t have to wait to begin treatment. They can undergo medical treatments as long as the treatments are approved by a qualified medical doctor and conform to workers’ compensation guidelines.

The initial out-of-pocket expenses will be reimbursed once the claim is approved. Medical treatments must be related to the injury incurred while at work and can include:

  • Physical therapy.
  • Examinations.
  • Medical evaluations.
  • Treatments.
  • Surgical procedures.
  • Prescription drugs.
  • Travel costs to and from the healthcare provider.
  • Medical aid devices.

Travel reimbursements are based on a set mileage rate that is periodically adjusted upward. You may be required to use a medical doctor who is approved by the workers’ compensation policy provider unless you have already had your personal doctor approved through a process known as pre-designation.

What are my rights under workers compensation in California?

The Right to Temporary Disability Benefits

Injured workers are often unable to immediately return to work. Surgery, therapy, and other important treatments often come with mandatory bed rest and recovery time. Your workers’ compensation program provides temporary disability benefits that partially cover the missed weekly pay from your employer.

You have the right to receive weekly payments that are two-thirds the value of your average weekly pay. Temporary disability benefits can run for a maximum of two years (104 weeks) within a five-year period. You do not have to use the benefits continuously as long as they are used within five years and do not add up to more than 104 weeks.

Certain medical conditions and diseases can extend this timeline. A few examples include severe burns, HIV, chronic lung disease, and pulmonary fibrosis, among other medical exceptions.

Permanent Disability Payments

Serious injuries can affect a worker’s ability to perform tasks they used to do on a regular basis. Those workers have the right to seek permanent disability status through their workers’ compensation program. The amount that is paid to someone with a permanent disability is based on a rating that is determined by the injury sustained and other factors like the age of the workers and doctor-recommended restrictions.

Some workers who are unable to return to work may qualify for weekly payments based on a percentage of their regular income. These payments can last anywhere from several weeks to life.

The Right to Vocational Retraining

If you received a work-related injury that impairs your ability to perform certain tasks, you have the right to vocational retraining programs. Employers must accommodate injured workers by providing alternative tasks, known as modified employment. If the employer cannot do so, the injured worker can receive a voucher that covers the cost of education-related retraining. The voucher can cover the cost of books, school fees, and tuition at state-approved schools only.

The Right to Death Benefits

Workers’ compensation plans also provide death benefits for survivors of deceased workers. The benefits cover funeral expenses. Spouses or dependents can receive monetary compensation on top of up-front compensation that covers burial expenses. The compensation amount is based on factors like the worker’s age, life expectancy, and projected loss of income following the death.

The Right to Appeal a Workers’ Compensation Benefits Rejection

If your workers’ compensation claim was rejected, it does not mean that you are out of luck. With the help of a workers’ compensation attorney, you can appeal the rejection through the state Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. The appeal process can take several months, but you have a right to have your rejection reviewed. Your Palm Desert workers’ compensation attorney can fill out the complicated forms for you and monitor the progress of the appeal.


Q: Can You Be Fired While on Workers’ Comp?

A: You can be fired for any lawful reason in California. This includes the possibility that you are laid off or terminated while on workers’ compensation. Your employer cannot fire you because you are on workers’ comp. That would be an unlawful act of retaliation. If that happens, your attorney can file a wrongful termination claim.

Q: How Long Can an Employee Be on Workers’ Compensation?

A: The time someone can be on workers’ compensation varies. Unless you qualify for permanent disability, your claim will likely be limited to 104 weeks. The length of your claim will largely be based on the advice of your medical doctor. The vast majority of workers are able to recover in well under 104 weeks. Certain medical conditions may qualify you for more than two years of benefits.

Q: How Long Does a Workers’ Comp Case Take to Settle?

A: Most workers’ compensation claims are approved within two weeks. If your employer delays that process, they can only do so for up to 90 days. After that, your claim is automatically considered work-related. Complicated cases that involve settlement offers and appeals can take several months or longer to resolve. You can reduce the likelihood that your case will be drawn out by working with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.

Q: What Is Wrongful Termination?

A: Wrongful termination in California refers to any employee firing that violated a law or the terms of the employee contract. No worker can be terminated because they have a protected characteristic. Race, gender, pregnancy status, age, and other protected characteristics are protected under state and federal law. Even when the termination did not violate a state or federal law, it still must abide by the terms of your employment contract.

Schedule Your California Workers’ Compensation Consultation Today

You have many rights under the state’s workers’ compensation program, but enforcing those rights is not always easy. Having an attorney by your side throughout the process can ensure that your rights are protected. The law office of English Lloyd & Armenta has more than 30 years of experience helping workers successfully navigate the workers’ compensation program. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.