Have you or someone you love been in an accident while on the job? Did this accident cause you severe injury or financial strain? If so, you may be eligible for compensation through a workers’ compensation claim or lawsuit. Contact the Bakersfield personal injury attorneys at OnderLaw today for a free, no-obligation consultation, and let us review your case to determine whether you’re eligible. Don’t let a job-related injury determine the course of your life. Call us today.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Every employer in California is required by law to carry some form of workers’ compensation (WC) insurance. This insurance provides several types of benefits to employees that are injured on the job. The WC program is designed to protect businesses and employees from financial loss when an employee is injured while working. If an employee applies for and accepts workers’ compensation benefits after being injured, they typically lose the right to sue their employer for negligence with an injury lawsuit.

Workers’ compensation insurance has been a requirement for employers in California since 1917, though there have been significant changes in the requirements through legislative action since its inception.

Who Qualifies for WC Benefits?

Almost anyone, even a part-time worker, who is injured at work can claim WC benefits. This includes physical injuries, repetitive stress injuries, illness caused by working conditions, and some mental illnesses. Injuries that do not usually qualify for WC benefits include self-inflicted injuries, injuries brought on by outside stress, or injuries that occurred while the employee was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Volunteers, independent contractors, people working for aid or sustenance, and people employed by their own families are usually exempt from workers’ compensation claims.

What Types of Benefits Are Available?

WC insurance provides several types of benefits to injured employees:

  • Medical care. You can receive compensation to cover any medical expenses related to your work injury. This includes any costs associated with treatment or rehabilitation, such as hospital bills, prescription medication, rehab services, home health services, and doctor’s visits.
  • Temporary disability benefits. You can receive direct benefit payments to make up for any wages lost due to missing work because of your injury. This includes any form of compensation you receive at work, such as tips, wages, food, lodging, bonuses, or commissions. Temporary disability benefits are typically ⅔ of the total wages you would lose while recovering from your injury. You can receive two types: Temporary Total Disability (TTD) payments are for workers who can’t return to work at all, and Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) payments go to workers who can return to work, but not in the same capacity as before their injury.
  • Permanent disability benefits. If your workplace injury leaves you permanently disabled, you can receive Permanent Disability Benefits. The amount you receive is determined by your age, occupation, the date of the injury, a doctor’s opinion on the severity of the injury, and the relative level of impairment, expressed as a percentage of the whole person.
  • Supplemental job displacement benefits. These are vouchers intended to help pay for re-education or training if you are unable to return to work at the place you worked before your injury. These vouchers typically have a value of $6,000 and can be used for licensing, certification, vocational counseling, purchasing equipment or tools, or education at a California public institution.
  • Return-to-work supplement program. Some recipients of the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits are also entitled to a one-time payment of $5,000 under the Return-to-work Supplement Program. This program is designed to help injured employees whose disability payments may be significantly lower than their income before they were injured.
  • Death benefits. These are benefits paid out to family members of an employee who died while on the job. They can be paid to spouses, children, or dependents, and the amount is determined by the number of dependents.
  • Life pension payments. If your workplace injury leaves you unable to ever return to work, you may be eligible for life pension payments after your permanent disability payments stop.
  • Compensable consequences. If your workplace injury results in additional injuries later, you can claim benefits as if the injury happened at work. For example, if you injure your knee in a fall at work and several years later that knee injury causes you to slip and fall on a wet floor, you should be eligible for WC benefits.

Steps to Take if You’ve Been Injured at Work

Here are some helpful steps to take after a work injury to protect yourself and start the workers’ compensation process:

  1. Get immediate medical attention. Even if you don’t believe the injury is severe, get a full medical evaluation by a health professional following your injury. The reason for this is two-fold: first, many injuries don’t manifest until hours or days after they occur, and second, starting the trail of documentation is key to filing a WC claim.
  2. Advise your employer in writing. Notify your manager or supervisor of the injury as soon as possible with a dated letter or note. The date is important as WC benefits are paid out from the date of the injury, and you must report the injury within 30 days, or you lose eligibility for benefits.
  3. Fill out a WC claim form. Your employer is required to furnish you with a WC claim form within one day of the injury. Fill out and submit this form to the California Division of Workers’ Compensation as soon as you can.
  4. Retain legal counsel. All California employers are required to carry WC insurance policies, but these policies are still handled by private companies that wish to turn a profit, and that means they will look for any reason to deny your claim. You’ll need the help of a qualified attorney to obtain WC benefits.

California Workplace Injury Statistics

Here are some helpful statistics regarding workplace injuries and fatalities in California and elsewhere:

  • Transportation incidents account for the vast majority of workplace-related fatalities in California in 2017.
  • In 2017, 78% of nonfatal workplace injuries occurred in private industry and 22% in state and local government agencies.
  • Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of WC claims for employees 55 years and older.
  • The occupations with the highest rate of workplace-related fatalities in 2019 are fishing and hunting workers.
  • There were 5,147 fatal workplace injuries nationwide in 2017.

Why Do I Need an Attorney for My Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Filing for WC benefits in California can be a complex undertaking. Hiring an attorney to assist is almost required to fully understand what benefits you’re entitled to and how much you should receive, especially if your injury ended in severe or permanent disability.

The amount of benefits you receive can also affect your eligibility for federal programs, such as Social Security Disability Benefits. An experienced lawyer can help you determine exactly how much in WC benefits to request so that other programs aren’t affected.

Hiring an attorney also means that we do the lion’s share of the work. We will field all the phone calls, keep your claim on schedule, and keep all your information in order so that you can do exactly what’s intended with WC benefits: recover from your injury so you can return to work.

Dealing with the bureaucracy and red tape associated with WC claims can leave you feeling frustrated, angry, and overwhelmed, with nowhere to turn for help. Your attorney is more than your source for legal information. We are your guide, your confidant, and your support during this difficult time. We’ve seen all this before, and we know the best way to make the system work for you and your family.

Why Choose OnderLaw to Represent Me?

You’ve made the decision to hire an attorney for your WC claim, but why should you choose OnderLaw?

We believe in providing a level of service that you simply won’t find anywhere else. We treat our clients with the respect, compassion, and dignity you deserve because we think the best way to represent our clients is to place ourselves in your shoes and fully appreciate the ordeal you’re going through. We will take the time to get to know you and the intricacies of your case and build a solid relationship based on mutual trust and candor.

We don’t just help our clients. A law firm is only as successful as the communities that support it, and giving back to those communities is a core part of our mission. We regularly donate to charitable organizations and causes such as MADD, Toys for Tots, and the Lupus Foundation of America.

But honestly, the best reason to choose us to represent you is our proven record of success. We’ve obtained over $3 billion in settlements and awards for our clients since 2002. We can’t guarantee a win for every case we take on, but we can guarantee the same teamwork that obtained these results will be used for you and your family.

Call Today for a Free Consultation

If you’ve been injured on the job, don’t wait any longer. California’s statute of limitations on workers’ compensation claims is one year from the date of the injury, so time is a factor. Call the attorneys at OnderLaw today for a free, no-obligation consultation, and let us help ensure you get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Call today.