Over the course of their lifetimes, many workers will sustain an injury at work. Certain careers may increase the likelihood of being involved in a workplace accident. Construction, food service, and garbage collecting are some examples of trades that can be considered high-risk for workers. A workplace injury can negatively impact your livelihood and well-being. You may wonder what options are available to you right after a workers’ compensation accident. Have you been injured while at work? You may be entitled to compensation. The Fresno personal injury lawyers of OnderLaw can help.
Contact a workers’ compensation attorney from OnderLaw to go over the details of your case. Our skilled and experienced lawyers can discuss the options you have available to you as the victim of a workplace accident and can help you determine the best course of action when it comes to your next steps. The legal team at OnderLaw has nearly two decades of experience with personal injury cases of all types, and we’re well-prepared to handle your workers’ compensation case.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that protects both employers and workers from financial losses and provides medical and wage benefits to employees who become injured at work or ill from a work-related cause. Additionally, workers’ comp pays death benefits to the family of a worker who is killed on the job.
In California, all businesses with employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, some large businesses are self-insured. This means that these businesses pay the claims themselves instead of paying a private insurance company to pay benefits on their behalf.
Who Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Now that you have an idea of what workers’ compensation benefits are, who they’re for, and what they do, you may be left wondering what it takes to qualify to receive these benefits. To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits with your company, you must:
- Be an employee
- Your employer must have workers’ compensation insurance coverage
- You must have a work-related injury or illness
- You must meet your state’s deadlines (otherwise known as the state’s statute of limitations) when reporting an injury and filing a workers’ compensation claim. In California, the statute of limitations on workers’ compensation claims is one year from the date of injury.
What Types of Benefits Are Available?
Should you meet the requirements to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you may wonder what benefits are available to you as the victim of a work-related injury or illness. The most common types of workers’ compensation benefits available to victims of work-related injury or illness include:
- Medical expenses. You can recover benefits for the medical expenses you incur due to a work-related injury or illness. Medical expenses include hospital and doctor’s visits, surgery, prescriptions, x-rays, physical therapy/rehabilitation, in-patient/out-patient care, and equipment such as wheelchairs and CPAP machines.
- Temporary disability. You can receive benefits for the time you were forced to take off of work due to your work-related injury or illness. Temporary disability pays two-thirds of the pre-tax wages you lose while in recovery from a work-related injury or illness. However, there is a set weekly amount as determined by California law. These payments begin when your physician determines that you cannot return to work for three days or more or when you’re kept overnight in the hospital.
- Permanent disability. You can recover damages for any lasting medical problems you have resulting from a work-related injury or illness. This is the case whether or not you are able to return to work. However, to qualify for permanent disability, your physician must declare in writing that your recovery has reached its plateau (otherwise known as the peak of your recovery), and your work must be negatively impacted by the lasting effects of your work-related injury or illness. There are two types of permanent disability benefits—total and partial. You could be entitled to total permanent disability benefits if your physician declares that you are unable to work for the rest of your life as a result of the after-effects of a work-related injury or illness.
- Job displacement benefits. You may be eligible to receive job displacement benefits if you’re able to do some work but are unable to return to your previous job as a result of a work-related injury or illness. Generally, this type of compensation comes in the form of a voucher that you can use to pay for the costs of school or training to develop the skills you’ll need to enter a new field or line of work.
- Life pension payments. You may be eligible to receive lifetime pension payments if you meet California’s criteria for permanent and total disability.
- Death benefits. Death benefits are payable to the spouse, children, or other dependents of a worker who died as a result of a work-related injury or illness. This includes burial expenses not exceeding $5,000 if the work-related injury or illness occurred before Jan. 1, 2013, and $10,000 for injuries and illnesses on or after Jan. 1, 2013. The full amount payable to the family of the decedent depends on the number of dependents left behind by the decedent.
Steps to Take If You’ve Been Injured at Work
There are a few steps you can take to ensure that you recover the full amount of benefits payable to you in the event that you are injured at work or become ill due to work-related conditions. Some actions you can take immediately following a work-related injury or illness include:
- Immediately reporting the work-related injury or illness to your supervisor (preferably in writing). It is important that you notify your employer immediately if you develop an injury or illness due to work-related conditions so that when the time comes for you to file a claim, your employer is aware of the work-related injury or illness you acquired. It is especially important for you to document the work-related injury or illness in writing for your employer so that they cannot deny your claim or argue that you were injured or became ill outside of work.
- File a workplace injury report. Employers are required to keep workplace injury reports as mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. When you suffer a work-related injury or illness, it’s important that you demand to file a workplace injury report and keep a copy for your own records.
- Seek medical care. You must seek medical care immediately after developing a work-related injury or illness. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions are some examples of injuries you could potentially develop from a work-related accident that can be difficult to identify and get worse over time.
- File a workers’ compensation claim. In California, the statute of limitations on workers’ compensation claims is one year from the date of injury. If you fail to file a report within the time frame, your case will be dismissed, and you will lose out on the benefits payable to you as the victim of a work-related injury or illness. It is important that you file a workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible after developing a work-related injury or illness.
- Get an attorney. An attorney can be an asset to you when filing a workers’ compensation case. Whether or not you have a lawyer on your side could mean the difference between winning or losing the full amount of money payable to you.
Workplace Injury Statistics
Workplace injuries occur nearly every day in the United States. Here’s what the numbers look like:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, workers 55 and older made up 38% of all workplace fatalities in 2019.
Additionally, 15% of all private industry non-fatal injuries and illnesses were in manufacturing in 2019.
328,310 workers visited medical treatment facilities as a result of work-related, non-fatal injuries and illnesses in 2019.
Why Do I Need A Lawyer?
Following the development of a work-related injury or illness, it’s important that you seek legal counsel immediately. A lawyer can help you navigate the lengthy and confusing process of filing a workers’ compensation claim while keeping you ahead of the statute of limitations so that you receive the full amount of benefits payable to you for your work-related injury or illness. An attorney can also work with medical providers and negotiate on your behalf with insurance companies to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve as a result of the losses you incurred at work.
How OnderLaw Could Help
If you’ve been injured while you were working, the team at OnderLaw can help you recover the benefits payable to you. Our partners are respected and trusted personal injury attorneys who have many years of experience in handling cases of all types, including workers’ compensation cases, and we have recovered several million in compensation for victims of work-related injuries and illnesses.
Should you choose OnderLaw to work with you, you can rest easy with the knowledge that you have top-notch legal representation from one of the best firms in the nation. Call us today for a free consultation.