When you’ve been injured at work in California, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits through the insurance plan your employer carries. If you’re having trouble filing a claim, or if your claim has been denied, you need legal help.
The Los Angeles personal injury lawyers of OnderLaw, LLC have a dedicated team ready to fight for your rights. You could sustain an injury or develop a debilitating illness in any job industry. Whether your accident was due to negligence, poor working conditions, or just because of something unforeseen, you deserve an opportunity to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Recovering from an injury can be expensive and lead to massive debt. The out-of-pocket expenses you incur shouldn’t be your responsibility if you were injured while doing your job.
Learn more about your legal options during a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyers by calling (314) 963-9000 today.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that provides benefits to injured workers. All employers in California must provide coverage, even if they only have one employee. If someone suffers a job-related injury or illness, they can file a claim with their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. The benefits they receive could pay for necessary medical treatment and supplement a portion of their lost income while they’re out of work or earning less than their usual wages.
You can only pursue workers’ compensation benefits if your injury happened while you were performing your work-related duties. For example, if you’re a delivery driver and someone else caused a car accident, you could apply for benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. If you were on a construction site and the machinery you were using malfunctioned, you could receive workers’ comp benefits for your injury.
You’re not entitled to benefits if you’re off the clock, such as when you take your lunch break. If you’re attending a company-sponsored event and suffer injuries, you likely wouldn’t be allowed to file a workers’ compensation claim. Covered injuries and illnesses only include those sustained at work or off-site completing job-related tasks.
Who Qualifies for WC Benefits?
Everyone who is an employee of a California company and who sustains injuries in the course of doing their job qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits of some sort. Workers’ compensation benefits cover full-time and part-time workers.
Common injuries that could qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits are:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Loss of limb
- Spinal cord damage
- Overexertion injury
- Vision or hearing loss
- Dislocated joints
- Pulled or strained muscles
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Sprained ankles
- Internal injuries
- Back and neck injuries
This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the possible injuries and illnesses that qualify for benefits. If you were injured at work, you should contact OnderLaw, LLC, so we can determine whether your workers’ compensation benefits cover your specific condition.
What Type of Benefits Are Available?
Five main benefits are available through workers’ compensation insurance.
By law, your employer is required to pay for all reasonable treatment needed to heal or manage your illness or injury under workers’ compensation medical care coverage. If your employer’s workers’ comp insurance has an approved medical provider network or health care organization, you must see a doctor in one of those groups. The only exception is if you predesignated your medical provider or facility before sustaining a workplace injury or illness. If that’s the case, you could see one of your own doctors immediately after the accident for treatment.
If you didn’t predesignate a physician but choose to see a medical provider that isn’t in your employer’s network or organization, you will likely have to pay out of pocket for that visit. If you see an approved doctor, you should receive coverage for those expenses. Common expenses include:
- Imaging tests
- Hospital stays
- Emergency room visits
- Physical therapy
- Prescription drugs
- Travel expenses from driving to and from the medical facility
Temporary Disability Benefits
Temporary disability benefits can replace a portion of your lost wages if your injury or illness prevents you from performing the usual tasks of your job. Payments are two-thirds of the gross wages you lose while you’re kept off work by your doctor.
Coverage will begin if your physician informs you that your condition prevents you from doing your usual duties for longer than three days or you need overnight hospitalization. Payments end if:
- Your doctor places you at maximum medical improvement, meaning your injury or illness has improved as much as it can;
- Your doctor releases you back to your job; or
- You return to work.
Permanent Disability Benefits
If you suffer a lasting disability due to your workplace illness or injury that interferes with your ability to earn an income, you could collect permanent disability benefits. Even if you do return to work after the accident, you still might be entitled to payments if the injury or illness results in a permanent disability. This means that you reached maximum medical improvement.
Your payment amount will depend on multiple factors, including:
- Date of the workplace accident
- Impairment rating provided by your doctor, which indicates how much the injury affects your physical function
Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits
You might be eligible for supplemental job displacement benefits if your injury leads to a permanent partial disability and:
- You don’t return to work within 60 days of your temporary disability benefits coverage ending; and
- Your employer doesn’t offer alternative or modified job duties within 30 days of terminated temporary disability benefit payments.
You will receive a voucher that you can use to pay for skill enhancement or educational retraining at a state-accredited or state-approved school. This can help you learn new skills so you can work in a different position or change employers.
The voucher can cover various expenses, such as books, fees, tuition, and other costs necessary for the training program. The amount of the voucher will depend on your level of permanent disability.
Death benefits are available to a surviving spouse, child, or another dependent if a workplace accident causes an employee’s fatal injury or illness. Payments would be at the same rate as the temporary disability benefit that the worker would have earned if they were still alive. You could also recover compensation for burial expenses up to $5,000 if the injury occurred before January 1, 2013, or up to $10,000 if the injury happened on or after January 1, 2013.
Steps to Take if You’ve Been Injured at Work
If you were injured at work, you must follow specific steps if you want to pursue benefits from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. First, you should seek immediate medical treatment after leaving the accident scene. Go to an approved doctor or your predesignated physician for an evaluation of your injury or illness. If they recommend follow-up treatment, follow their orders. You should attend all necessary appointments until you recover or reach maximum medical improvement.
Report the accident to your employer. You must do this within thirty days of the job-related injury or illness. If you don’t, you could end up without the compensation you need to pay for your medical care and may miss out on recovering a portion of your lost wages.
Hire a Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyer to represent you in your case. You need a knowledgeable and experienced legal team on your side to guide you through the process, investigate the accident, and obtain evidence to prove what happened.
You should also maintain any documentation you receive that’s associated with the case. That might include physician notes, surgical bills, and other medical records. If the insurance company calls you or requests that you sign any forms, inform them that you retained a lawyer and give them our contact information. We can handle all communication during your ongoing claim.
Workplace Injury Statistics
Workplace accidents are common in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.8 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses in private industry during 2019. That’s an incident rate of 2.8 cases per 100 full-time employees. Additionally, 888,220 nonfatal injuries and illnesses occurred the same year that required at least one day away from work.
In 2019, there were 5,333 fatal work injuries around the country. This was an increase in occupational deaths from the previous year. Almost one out of every five fatal injuries was a truck driver or a driver/sales worker. Fatal work injury rates were highest among hunting and fishing workers, logging workers, flight engineers and aircraft pilots, and roofers.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
A debilitating injury can affect your whole life and prevent you from earning the wages you need to pay for your medical expenses and daily living costs. When you’re out of work, you could end up in debt while treating your injury or illness. It becomes a significant financial burden and leads to unnecessary stress.
The Los Angeles worker’s compensation lawyers of OnderLaw, LLC understand the burden you face. You don’t have to go through this traumatic experience alone. We can take on the responsibility of your claim so you can focus on recovering. We know how to strategize and develop a plan that can achieve positive results. You can depend on us to tirelessly work to recover the maximum benefits you deserve.
How OnderLaw, LLC Could Help
Since 2002, OnderLaw, LLC has represented injured workers in their workers’ compensation claims. We’re familiar with workers’ compensation cases and how to effectively seek the available coverage our clients need to heal their injuries and move forward with their lives.
When you have us on your side, you can feel confident knowing you’re in dedicated and capable hands. We will be your advocate and fight for your rights as an employee suffering a workplace injury or illness.
If you were in a workplace accident, call OnderLaw, LLC at (314) 963-9000 right now for a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyers.