A work-related injury or illness can impact an employee at any time, whether they’re in a high-risk industry, such as construction, or working at an office job. An injury may result from a fall from a high platform, exposure to toxic chemicals, or even a trip over a loose cord. If you suffered an injury at work, you should turn to an experienced Newport Beach personal injury attorney.
Work injuries and illnesses are, unfortunately, more common than you might think. According to California’s Department of Industrial Relations and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 466,600 nonfatal occupational injuries in 2017. That same year, 376 Californians suffered a fatality on the job.
Like every other state in the U.S., California has a workers’ compensation program in place that allows injured workers to seek benefits to cover medical bills, a portion of their lost wages, and other benefits. However, the process of applying for workers’ compensation is lengthy and complicated and, too often, workers don’t receive the full benefits they deserve, or their claim is denied altogether.
When you’re dealing with the aftermath of a serious injury, a complex claims process may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. The compassionate attorneys at OnderLaw, LLC have the experience and perseverance needed to secure the benefits you need, whether you’re applying for your benefits for the first time or navigating the appeals process.
If you have been injured on the job in Newport Beach, a OnderLaw, LLC workers’ compensation lawyer can help. Call us today at (314) 963-9000 to schedule a consultation and learn more about your rights and options.
How Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at OnderLaw, LLC Can Help
At OnderLaw, LLC, the first thing we do in every case is to listen to our client’s story. We feel strongly that it’s important to understand a client’s needs, challenges, and goals in order to determine how to give them the best representation possible. Our uncompromising dedication to our clients has been recognized by several organizations, such as Super Lawyers, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and The National Trial Lawyers.
We know the workers’ compensation process is challenging and filled with numerous roadblocks, such as denied claims, delayed payments, and employers who fail to give you the help you need. Even when your claim is approved, it can be difficult to know if you’re getting the full benefits you’re due.
However, there are laws in place to protect your rights. A seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to leverage their knowledge of the law and the workers’ compensation system to protect your best interests in a number of ways, including:
- Answering all of your questions and guiding you through the entire workers’ comp process
- Gathering evidence related to the work accident, such as statements from eyewitnesses
- Gathering comprehensive medical evidence to support your claim, which may include medical records and medical opinions from treating physicians and medical experts
- Making sure your claim is filed correctly and on time
- Acting as an intermediary throughout the claim process, which may include talking with your employer, insurance companies, and any other lawyers involved
- Negotiating settlements on your behalf, including comprehensive medical care
- If your claim is denied, guiding you through the appeals process, representing your interests at workers’ comp hearings and in court, if necessary.
- Helping you determine if you may have a personal injury claim against a third-party, such as a defective machine manufacturer or another group whose negligence may have contributed to your injury.
Steps Employees Should Take After Being Injured at Work
Work-related injuries and illnesses are covered by California’s workers’ compensation program, no matter who was at fault for them. However, there are a few steps you need to take following your injury to ensure that you can successfully obtain the full benefits you are owed.
Seek medical care
Seek immediate medical attention following your injury. Obtaining an accurate assessment of your injuries and their severity is crucial to making sure you receive the proper treatment. Be sure to let the medical provider know that you were injured at work and detail how your injuries occurred.
Report your injury to your supervisor
Tell your supervisor about the injury as soon as possible after the accident or incident. You’re required to let your employer know about the injury within 30 days of its occurrence or within 30 days of learning that your injury was caused by work. Your employer, at that point, will have ten days to report the injury to their insurance company.
Once you have reported your injury, your employer should provide you with the DWC 1 form for filing a claim within one day. If they fail to give you a form, you can get one from the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Workers’ Compensation.
File a claim
You have up to one year after your injury to file with the insurance company to avoid rejection of your benefits. After your claim form is submitted to your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company, the insurance company has fourteen days to respond. If you are dissatisfied with the decision, an appeal of the findings should be filed immediately.
Follow your doctors’ orders and attend follow-up appointments
For follow-up treatment, you may need to choose from a list of employer physicians approved for workers’ comp, unless you specified your primary care physician as your workers’ comp physician prior to your injury. You must follow their recommended treatment plan – if you fail to do so, you could lose your right to benefits. Let your employee know if you must take time off, work reduced hours, or work under specific conditions.
Seek legal help
Unfortunately, employers and workers’ compensation insurance companies don’t always treat employees fairly. Having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer by your side can help ensure that you receive all of the benefits you deserve.
Common Workplace Accidents and Injuries in California
Some of the most common causes of workplace injuries and illnesses in California include:
- Lifting and pushing
- Repetitive motion
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Falling from heights
- Hit by falling objects
- Vehicle collisions
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Exposure to loud noises
- Defective machines
- Fights and assaults
Some of the most common injuries and illnesses suffered on the job include:
- Head trauma
- Fractured bones
- Strains and sprains
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Lacerations, punctures, and bruises
- Repetitive strain or stress injuries
- Hearing loss
- Respiratory diseases
- Psychological injury
What Type of Benefits Could I Be Owed?
A seasoned attorney can help you understand the full benefits you are entitled under California’s workers’ compensation laws and fight zealously to protect your rights and interests. Below is a list of the different types of benefits you are entitled to through the workers’ compensation program:
Medical care costs – This may include doctors’ visits, hospital bills, surgeries, medications, medical equipment, tests, medicines, equipment, and travel expenses needed to treat your injury.
Temporary disability benefits – These are payments a worker receives when a temporary disability prevents them from doing their usual job. You can generally receive TD benefits for a total of 104 weeks within five years of the date of your injury. There are two types of TD benefits:
- Temporary total disability (TTD): If you cannot work at all while recovering, you can receive temporary total disability payments. Workers’ compensation will cover two-thirds of your average weekly wages while you recover. The weekly maximum in 2021 for temporary total disability is $1,356.31 per week.
- Temporary partial disability (TPD): If you can do some work while you’re recovering, you might be able to receive temporary partial disability benefits, assuming your income is less than the maximum set by the state. These benefits are usually two-thirds of the difference between your wages prior to and following your injury.
Permanent disability benefits – These are payments a worker receives when an injury causes permanent loss of physical or mental function. Once your doctor determines that maximum medical improvement (MMI) has been reached, they will evaluate your permanent injury and apply a rating to it, which is used to determine your percentage of disability. The benefits you receive will be based on your disability rating, your average weekly wages at the time of your injury, and the date of your injury. There are two types of permanent disability benefits:
- Permanent partial disability (PTD): If you receive a rating for your permanent injury that is less than 100 percent, that means you have a permanent partial disability. The length of time you receive those benefits will hinge on various factors, including your permanent disability rating and California’s Schedule for Rating Permanent Disabilities.
- Permanent total disability (PTD): If you receive a permanent injury rating of 100 percent, that means that you have a permanent total disability. If you have a permanent total disability, you are eligible to receive permanent disability payments for the rest of your life.
Supplemental job displacement benefit – If eligible, you may receive a voucher to help pay for retraining or skill enhancement. The voucher is usually worth up to $6,000 for educational job training.
Death benefits – If an employee dies as a result of their work-related injuries, that employee’s spouse, children, and other dependents may receive death benefits that help cover reasonable burial expenses (up to $10,000) and lost wages. Death benefits will vary depending on the number of total or partial dependents.
Contact Us Today
Don’t try to navigate a complicated workers’ compensation claim on your own. Our seasoned workers’ compensation attorneys will leverage our knowledge of workers’ compensation law and the evidence we gather on your behalf to fight for the full benefits you need. You can feel confident you have a driven, compassionate team looking out for your best interests while you focus on your recovery. Contact us now for a consultation by calling (314) 963-9000 or filling out our convenient online form.