Workers' Compensation in California
California workers' comp (also known as workers' compensation, work compensation, and workman's comp) gives workers who are injured, become ill, or die on the job income and medical care. California requires that all employers provide workers' compensation coverage for their employees. If you are injured at work, or become ill because of your job, you must file a claim with the California Division of Workers Compensation (DWC) within a certain amount of time.
There are some workers' compensation issues that require legal assistance. For instance, if your employer is underinsured, uninsured, refuses to cooperate, or if your claim is denied, disputed or your injury is permanent or severe. In addition, if you were injured by a defective product, the manufacturer of the product may bear some responsibility for the injury. Consult a California workers' comp lawyer about any questions you may have.
Illnesses and Injuries Covered Under California Workers' Compensation Law
Accidental Physical Injuries
- When an employee is on the job in California, accidental injuries are covered by California workers' compensation law. For example, falling at work, tripping, etc. If, however, the employee was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, or acting in violation of the company's policy, the accidental injury may not be covered.
- Injury caused by repetitive motions, overuse, or work conditions:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome, lumbar back problems, lung disease, stress related problems, chemical exposure, and asbestosis.
- If the worker dies, benefits are available to the worker's dependents.
The California Worker's Comp Claims Process
- Tell Your Employer
- Make sure to tell your boss about your injury within 30 days. If you do not report your workplace injury within 30 days, you may lose your right to receive workers' comp benefits. Complete a DWC Form 1 [http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/DWCForm1.pdf] and give it to your employer. You could lose your right to receive workman's compensation benefits if you fail to notify your boss. Your benefits may also be delayed.
- Get Prompt Medical Help
- Tell your doctor that your injury is work-related.
- Be sure to file your claim with the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Workers' Compensation within 1 year of your injury. If you fail to do so, you may lose your wage or medical benefits and/or permanent disability compensation.
- Get in touch with a California Workman's Comp attorney if you need help or if your claim is denied.
Benefits Received in California Under the Workers' Compensation Program
Several kinds of workers' compensation benefits are available in California. Contact a California workers' comp lawyer to discuss your options:
- Medical Treatment: Payments are made directly to your healthcare provider. Doctor and hospital bills, as well as the cost of other treatment related to your work injury. Workers' compensation pays for medical treatment including doctor bills, hospital bills, and the cost of other treatment related to your job-connected injury.
- Wage Reimbursement: Your employer must pay you back for wages lost due to your injury (i.e., either for doctor's visits, or for any time you spend arguing your case in front of the California Industrial Commission because your employer or employer's insurer denied your claim).
- Death: If a worker dies from an unintentional workplace injury, his spouse, children, and/or other dependents may receive death benefits. The amount of death benefits depends on how dependent the person is on the decedent.
- Vocational Rehabilitation (before 2004): Includes job placement counseling and possibly retraining, depending on whether your employer provides you with other work. Vocational rehabilitation may be available to some injured workers whose injuries prevent them from returning to their jobs.
- Income Benefits: 4 kinds of income replacement benefits exist in California:
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD for short): Money paid to the employee when the employee is unable to work because of his injury.
- Amount: 2/3 of the injured worker's average gross weekly wages earned before the injury (pre-tax).
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (or TPD for short): Money paid to an ill or injured worker who cannot do his same job because of his injury, but who may be able to do some work after he recovers.
- Amount: An amount determined by a percentage of the worker's wage with a maximum and minimum cap per week.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD for short): When your occupational injury or illness is so debilitating that you cannot work.
- Amount: The amount of money you can receive depends on a combination of your disability rating, your wages prior to your injury, and the date of your injury. The amount paid for the 2010 year is available on the California state website: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/WCFaqIW.html
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD for short): When the worker has recovered and can do some work, but will always be permanently affected by the injury (i.e.-a lost leg or thumb).
- Amount: The same as the TTD. The payments may continue for up to 619 weeks.
Why Hire A California Workers' Comp Lawyer?
It is recommended that you contact a California Workers' Compensation lawyer when your injury is hard to prove or causes significant and prolonged disability, or when your Workers' Compensation claim has been denied. Specialists in workers' comp law who aid ill or injured workers with their claims have a great deal of experience with the California workers' comp procedures, and with the California Department of Industrial Relations. Such an attorney will be able to find evidence pertinent to your claim and to develop an effective strategy for your case.
If a third party was involved in your work injury or accident, consult a California workmans' comp attorney to help protect your rights and ensure that you are aware of all available options for compensation, all issues, timeframes, and your potential for recovery.
California Workers' Compensation Code
Applicable California workers' compensation statutes:
- Employers Subject To Workers' Compensation
- California Labor Code, Part 1, Chp.2, Art. 1 §§ 3300-3302.
- Covered Employees
- California Labor Code, Part 1, Chp.2, Art. 2 §§ 3350-3371.
- California Labor Code, Chp.9, Art.2 §§ 4211-4214.
- Claims Procedure
- California Labor Code, Part 4, Chp.4 §§ 6140-6149.