Sustaining an injury at work can be difficult for employers and employees alike, but what if your employer doesn’t follow correct procedures for handling a workers’ compensation claim, or worse, your employer doesn’t carry worker’s compensation insurance? What options do you have?

If a workplace injury affects your finances or your peace of mind, you should speak to the Modesto personal injury attorneys at OnderLaw as soon as possible. We have nearly two decades of experience helping residents of Modesto and elsewhere get fair compensation for their workplace injuries, and we can use that experience to help you get the assistance you’re owed. Call today for a free consultation, and let us review your case to determine eligibility. Don’t let your employer give you the run-around. Call OnderLaw today.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ Compensation (WC) insurance is a program that provides benefits to workers that sustain injury or illness while on the job and benefits to families and loved ones of workers that die while on the job. Every employer in California is required to carry WC insurance for their employees, with some exceptions.

WC claims are not the same as personal injury claims. There is no need to prove negligence on the employer’s part to receive WC benefits, only that the injury or illness is work-related. In return for receiving WC benefits, most workers are not allowed to sue their employer. The system is designed to benefit both employers and employees alike.

WC insurance covers almost all work-related injuries and illnesses. This includes one-time workplace accidents, repetitive stress injuries, and work-related illness or disease. Although WC insurance is required by law in California, the policies are still purchased from and administered by private insurance companies.

Who Is Eligible for WC Benefits?

Almost every employee in the state of California is eligible for benefits, with a few exceptions. These include:

  • Independent contractors
  • Employees working for aid or sustenance
  • Employees working for their parent, spouse, or child
  • Employees working for less than 52 hours
  • Employees working for less than $100
  • Volunteers

What Benefits Are Available?

WC Insurance provides five primary benefits: temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, medical benefits, Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits (SJDB), and death benefits. Workers may also be eligible for a Return-To-Work Supplement, awards for compensable consequences, and a life pension under certain circumstances.

  • Medical benefits. Your employer is required to pay for medical care that is reasonably necessary to cure or alleviate the effects of an illness or injury. A doctor cannot charge you for medical care for any work-related injury or disease. You can be treated by your doctor if you predesignate them before the injury, or a physician will be chosen for you from a list of approved doctors by your claims administrator.
  • Temporary Disability Benefits. These are benefits paid to workers to supplement wages lost while you recover from injury or illness. These benefits usually stop when you return to work and are based on your average weekly wage, including wages, commissions, bonuses, tips, lodging, and overtime. The amount is typically two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
  • Permanent Disability Benefits. PD benefits are paid to workers who sustain an injury or illness which affects their ability to earn a living. You may be eligible for these benefits even if you’re able to return to your usual work. The amount is set by law and determined by your age, occupation, and impairment level.
  • Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits. These benefits are paid to workers that can never return to work in the same capacity as before the injury or illness. They are paid out as vouchers that can be redeemed for education, training, skill enhancement, tools, equipment, licensing, certification, and vocational counseling.
  • Death benefits. These are benefits paid to the family and loved ones of workers killed while on the job. They can be used for funeral and burial expenses up to $10,000. The number of dependents determines the total amount of death benefits.
  • Return-to-Work Supplement Program. This is a one-time payment of up to $5,000 for workers who have received SJDB. It supplements lost earnings from a work-related injury or illness.
  • Life pension. A life pension is a lifetime benefit issued to workers who have exhausted permanent disability payments.
  • Compensable consequences. If your workplace injury or illness leads to additional injuries in the future, you may be eligible for payments due to compensable consequences. For instance, if you lose feeling in a limb due to a work-related injury, and this lack of sensation leads to burning yourself with a hot liquid later, you could be eligible for compensable consequence payments.

Steps to Take if You’re Injured at Work

If you’ve suffered an injury or illness while working, it’s essential to act quickly to protect your rights and start the WC claims process. Here are some helpful steps to take following an injury:

  • Get medical attention if necessary. If it’s a severe injury, don’t wait for your manager or employer’s approval. Get emergency medical help. This is also key for the workers’ compensation claims process, as you’ll need a doctor’s report on your condition that is as close in time to the accident as possible.
  • Notify your manager or employer in writing. Let your supervisor or employer know about the injury in a dated and signed note. Keep a copy for your records.
  • Submit a WC claim. Your employer is required to provide you with a WC claim form within one business day of being notified of your injury. You can also find the form here. Fill out the employee portion and return it to your employer as soon as possible. You only have thirty days from the date of the injury to submit a claim, so don’t delay.
  • Hire an attorney. You’ll want the help of a qualified lawyer to make sure you get all the benefits owed to you, regardless of whether your employer accepts responsibility for the injury.

California Workplace Injury Statistics

Here are some statistics and data regarding workplace injuries in California:

  • California reported over 284,000 nonfatal workplace injuries that ended in days missed, a job transfer, or job restriction in 2019.
  • The service industry reported the highest number of nonfatal occupational injuries in California in 2019.
  • The trade, transportation, and utilities industry reported over 105,000 nonfatal occupational injuries.
  • The state and local government industry reported over 103,000 nonfatal occupational injuries.
  • All told, there were over 483,000 nonfatal occupational injuries statewide in 2019.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

There are many reasons why hiring an attorney for your WC claim is necessary.

The workers’ compensation claims process is complex and difficult to understand. It’s filled with special provisions, legal jargon, and detailed information that can make filing a claim difficult for someone without experience. Trying to navigate the claims process while recovering from a severe injury or illness can quickly become overwhelming, especially in the short timeframe allowed.

Your attorney will help explain how the process works, what to expect, and assist you in applying for benefits. We will make sure you obtain all the benefits owed to you and protect your rights if your employer doesn’t follow the law.

Suppose you wish to apply for Social Security Disability benefits and WC benefits. In that case, your attorney will make certain your settlement or benefits are structured correctly to allow you to successfully apply for SSDI.

If your employer doesn’t carry WC insurance, attempts to retaliate against you, or you disagree with the diagnosis provided by your assigned physician, your lawyer will be invaluable. We can help you file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against your employer to get the benefits you deserve, if necessary. We will act as your advocate and confidant and provide the guidance and support you need during a challenging time.

How OnderLaw Can Help

We’ve helped our clients with claims of all sizes since 2002. From workers’ compensation to lawsuits worth hundreds of millions of dollars, we have the experience necessary to make the law work for our clients and their families.

We take pride in treating all of our clients with the compassion and dignity they deserve. We understand that you’re coming to us during a vulnerable time looking for help, and we want to do all we can to assist. We will keep an open line of communication at all times, keeping you up to date with any information relating to your claim.

In this spirit of helping those who need it, we regularly provide donations of money and time to charitable causes and organizations such as Toys for Tots, the Lupus Foundation of America, and MADD.

We’ve obtained over $3.5 billion in awards and settlements since 2002. We don’t win every case or claim we take on, but we do guarantee that we will work tirelessly to get you the help you need.

Call OnderLaw Today

Don’t wait any longer to get help with your workers’ compensation claim. Call the attorneys at OnderLaw today. We will review your case and discuss your options, all free of charge. Call today, and let OnderLaw help you get back on your feet after a workplace injury.