If you were injured while on the job or became ill due to your job duties, you may be covered under your Fontana employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Unfortunately, many employee workers’ compensation claims are unfairly and unjustly denied. Sometimes red tape gets in the way. Many workers don’t have experience filling out California workers’ compensation claim forms, and a small technical error could result in being denied the medical treatment or disability payments you need and deserve.

This shouldn’t happen, but unfortunately, it often does. The Fontana personal injury lawyers of OnderLaw help workers like you fill out workers’ compensation paperwork and appeal claim denials all the time. If you want an experienced Fontana workers’ compensation lawyer by your side to make sure you are filing your claims correctly, or if you’ve already filed and had your claim denied, arrange a free consultation. You’ll be connected with a Fontana attorney with the experience you need to file a successful claim, and the compassion you deserve as we fight for justice.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

If your Fontana employer has even one employee, they must have workers’ compensation insurance under California law. You should easily see a notice in your workplace that verifies your employer has the proper insurance and gives you information on what to do if you are injured or become ill. Your employer should also have given you an information pamphlet when you were hired.

If you suffer a job-related injury or illness, this workers’ compensation insurance helps you financially as you recover. That’s why it is so essential that your employer follows the law, and that you have experienced legal help from a qualified Fontana attorney to help you get the coverage you deserve under the law.

Who Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

California law provides workers’ compensation benefits for full-time and part-time employees. If your employer states that you are an independent contractor, you should contact an experienced Fontana workers’ compensation attorney to review your job definition and duties, as you may still legally qualify for workers’ compensation.

In California, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you are an essential worker, including grocery store clerks, and you contract COVID-19 at work. Undocumented workers in this state also qualify for some, but not all, workers’ compensation benefits. A qualified Fontana workers’ compensation attorney can review your case and help you successfully claim all of the benefits that apply to you and your particular case.

Finally, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who is responsible for your injury. This means that if you made a mistake on the job and it resulted in an accident that caused your injury, your mistake does not make you ineligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. In most cases, you also cannot sue your employer if you believe they were at fault, either. If you believe your employer’s negligence resulted in your workplace illness or injury, however, you need to speak to an experienced Fontana workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

What Type of Benefits Are Available?

No job is free from risks and hazards to employees. Some high-risk workplaces seem obvious, like manufacturing, construction, and truck driving. However, others might surprise you, like nursing fields, janitorial jobs, and retail clerks.

Office work also carries risks. Employees can trip on loose carpeting, fall from a ladder while retrieving office supplies, or sustain an injury from a falling bookshelf or filing cabinet. Offices with moisture issues can create unhealthy environments, leading to mold-associated respiratory issues and illnesses. The same is true if you are repeatedly exposed to certain chemicals and substances.

If you suffer a one-time injury at work, like falling off a ladder and breaking a leg, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance should cover the medical care you need to recover and get back to work. If your injury is more severe or keeps you from working, resulting in lost wages, workers’ compensation should cover that pay that you lost. This is called short-term disability.

Your employer cannot fire you or punish you for filing a legitimate workers’ compensation claim. In most cases, when you are able to return to work, your employer has to offer you the same job at the same pay as before your injury. They can also demand that you return to work as soon as you recover enough to do so.

You may be eligible for permanent disability payments if you suffer a permanent physical or mental injury. Your doctor has to measure this loss based on American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines. If your doctor says that you can return to work, but with modifications or restrictions that your employer can offer, your employer has to offer you that work.

If you are eligible for permanent disability but can’t or don’t return to your previous job, you may qualify for benefits that retrain or prepare you for another job and, in some cases, receive an additional one-time payment.

If you are a survivor of a spouse or partner who died from a job-related injury or illness, you and any additional dependents may be eligible for Death Benefits as part of your spouse’s workers’ compensation benefits.

Steps to Take if You’ve Been Injured at Work

First, report your injury or illness to your boss or supervisor. If you don’t do this within 30 days, you may lose your right to file a claim under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Just as importantly, however, quickly reporting and getting the claims process underway will get you the medical benefits you need if you have a successful claim.

If your injury or illness is severe enough to be considered an emergency, call 911 or go to the emergency room. Be sure to tell your medical treatment team that your condition occurred while you were at work.

You can take steps before you are injured that will allow you to go to your own personal doctor if you suffer a work-related illness or injury. It’s called pre-designation. You need to notify your employer in writing of your preference, writing it in your own words, asking your employer for a form, or using a form from the California Department of Industrial Relations.

You have to meet certain conditions for pre-designating your personal physician or medical group. First, you have to have health care insurance, and second, your doctor must agree to see and treat you for a work-related incident. If you do not pre-designate or are not eligible to pre-designate, you must see the doctor that your employer’s claims administrator selects. You must also see your employer’s physician of preference if you want to later request that a chiropractor or acupuncturist treats your work-related injury or illness.

Workplace Injury Statistics

According to California Department of Industrial Relations reports, California workers suffered over 483,000 non-fatal, work-related injuries in 2019, resulting in over 284,000 missed workdays or changes in work situations as a result of those injuries.

Among the types of industries that saw significant work-related injuries were:

  • Fitness and recreation centers
  • Food service
  • Hotels
  • Health care
  • Retail
  • Telecommunications
  • Janitorial services
  • Exterminators
  • Landscapers
  • Waste collection
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Motor vehicles and transportation

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

Even if your employer followed the letter of the law in giving you access to workers’ compensation insurance, that is no guarantee that you will receive the benefits you deserve. A small error or omission on your paperwork could lead to a denial, and then you would have to file a convincing appeal on your own. The insurance company may try to claim that your condition is not work-related. For example, if you have a respiratory condition, they may try to claim it isn’t a result of your work environment.

You know better than anyone the condition you are in as a result of your work-related illness or injury. Yet, doctors sometimes don’t designate someone with a permanent disability rating even though you believe you should be. The process for fighting back against this is time-consuming and may involve having a workers’ compensation judge reconsider your case.

The bottom line is that Fontana workers’ compensation claims should be cut and dry, but they’re not. You showed up for work, you did your job, you got hurt or sick, and your workers’ compensation benefits should pay you fairly. However, at OnderLaw , we have seen time and time again that this doesn’t always doesn’t happen.

How Can OnderLaw Help?

Our experienced Fontana workers’ compensation lawyers know the tactics that insurance companies use to try and deny claims. We know how to fill out forms to get the best chances of a successful claim, and how to appeal a denial. After we review your case, we can also determine if you might have a claim against someone else outside of your employer. For example, if you were injured due to faulty equipment, you may have a legal case against the equipment manufacturer, in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.

Your focus should be on your recovery after your work-related injury or illness. Give OnderLaw a call today. Your free consultation may be just what you need to gain some peace of mind.