Are you or a loved one eligible for workers’ compensation in Sacramento, California? Injuries at work can be minor or devastating. If you have been injured at work, you’ll want to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to protect your rights.

Employers may refuse to believe you were injured on the job, or their insurance carrier may deny your benefits. California has a no-fault compensation system that benefits both the employee and the employer. This means that employees are unable to sue their employer in court for additional benefits. However, they also do not have to prove the employer was at fault for the injury, only that the injury was work-related.

Multiple types of workplace accidents and injuries qualify for workers’ compensation coverage. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Back injuries
  • Blindness
  • Broken bones
  • Bruises, cuts, and scrapes
  • Burns
  • Crushed limbs
  • Electrocution
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Hearing loss
  • Pulled, strained, or sprained muscles
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Respiratory problems
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Toxic exposure

Workers’ compensation pays for injuries that occur while you’re doing your job. This includes slips and falls, being hit by falling objects, motor vehicle accidents during the course of work, and physical assault by a co-worker or employee.

If you have a worker’s compensation claim, contact the Sacramento personal injury lawyers of OnderLaw for a free consultation. Call us today or contact us on our website to schedule your free consultation.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a state-run program that provides specific benefits to employees or their dependents who suffer a work-related disease or injury. The program evolved after the 20th century as the Industrial Revolution brought in faster and larger machinery. This equated to more workplace hazards and a greater number of injuries on the job.

While the program is national, each state is responsible for implementing its own program. This means aspects of the workers’ compensation program differ according to the laws of your state.

Each state determines how much workers’ compensation insurance will cost an employer. Similar businesses are grouped by workplace injury patterns and costs. Rates are then determined for each group. The system allows for modifying these rates based on the history of the group of companies and individual businesses. In California, all employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance, even if they have only one employee.

Who Qualifies for WC Benefits?

If you have a work-related illness or injury, you may be entitled to benefits. Typically, you must meet eligibility requirements to receive workers’ compensation benefits. These include:

  • Being an employee of the company
  • Having a work-related injury or illness
  • Meeting the state deadline for reporting and filing a worker’s compensation claim

In California, the statute of limitations for filing a claim is one year from the date of the job-related injury. If you don’t file a claim within a year of getting an injury or becoming aware of an illness, you may lose your right to benefits.

Although it is more difficult to recover benefits after the deadline, there are circumstances in which the time period may be extended. Contact our team of experienced workers’ compensation attorneys to discover how California law applies to your unique situation.

What Type of Benefits Are Available?

In California, workers’ compensation benefits, whether cash or non-cash, are tax-exempt. There are several types of benefits, including:

Medical treatment: These are expenses associated with your medical treatment, including evaluations, treatments, and surgery. Workers’ compensation also covers prescription drugs, medical aid devices, and transportation to and from the location where you’ll receive treatment.

Temporary disability benefits: This benefit pays if you have lost wages because your injury prevents you from doing your job while you’re recovering. The benefit goes directly to the injured worker and for a maximum of two years after the date of the injury.

Permanent disability: The worker collects these payments after an injury that results in a disability that makes it impossible for them to return to their former job or to find another job. The Workers’ Compensation Program takes several factors into account to develop a disability rating. This determines the amount of money paid and the length of time disability payments continue.

Supplemental job displacement: Workers who were injured in 2004 or later are eligible for vouchers to pay for retraining or skill enhancement. This benefit is available for employees who are unable to return to work in their former job.

Death benefits: A spouse, children, or other dependents may claim these benefits in the event a worker dies in a work-related activity. The benefits include burial expenses.

Steps To Take If You’ve Been Injured at Work

There are steps you should take after a work-related illness or injury. Following these steps helps to improve the chance that you’ll receive workers’ compensation benefits. They help to document the injury or illness and demonstrate your willingness to ensure there is enough information for the insurance company to make a decision.

Report the injury or illness to your employer: Tell your supervisor as soon as you learn or believe your injury or illness was caused by your job. In many cases, a worker’s compensation company may try to deny claims if the injury was not reported promptly.

Fill out a workplace injury form: After an injury, be sure you fill out a report, even if your employer says it is not necessary. It is crucial you also get a copy for your own records. In California, the claim form is DWC1, which the employer must give to you within one working day after you report your injury or illness to them. This form is used to request compensation benefits.

Get medical treatment if needed: If you have suffered a medical emergency, go to the emergency room and notify your healthcare provider that the illness or injury is job-related. Receiving proper medical care and the subsequent records generated by that care can help protect you if there is a dispute with the employer’s insurance company about whether the injury or illness was work-related.

Take photos or videos: If you are injured, take photos of the incident, including where the accident occurred and your injuries. Take pictures from a variety of angles to better support your claim.

Keep a journal: A journal will help you keep track of all missed days of work, out-of-pocket expenses, and travel necessary to get treatment. This helps document your expenses and losses, which in turn helps with your worker’s compensation claim. The amount of your settlement may depend on your documentation.

Retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney: Your lawyer can guide you through the complexities of workers’ compensation claims and benefits and help ensure you receive those you’re entitled to under California law.

Workplace Injury Statistics

Workplace injuries are tracked and monitored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The most recent information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows private industry employers reported 2.8 million injuries and illnesses in 2019.

Interestingly, the numbers have remained the same for the last three years. Yet, despite this plateau, there has been a downward trend in rates of workers’ comp claims since 1972, which is the first year that the Bureau of Labor Statistics published this information using data from the survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

Today, the rate is 2.8 per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers as compared to 10.9 per 100 FTEs in 1972. Although injuries and illnesses have remained stable, there was a two percent increase in workplace fatalities from 2018 to 2019. The median number of days people who were injured are away from work is eight across all industries.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27% of injuries in 2018 that resulted in people staying home from work were related to trips, slips, and falls. An estimated 2.5 million people were treated in the emergency room for work-related injuries, and male workers accounted for 65% of those treated in the ER. In 2019, 5,333 people died on the job in the United States, which is an average of more than 100 each week.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

Whether you need a workers’ compensation lawyer depends on the severity of your injury, the complexity of the situation, and the actions of your employer or their insurance company. You may not need a lawyer if:

  • Your injury was minor, like a sprained ankle
  • You missed very little work
  • Your employer acknowledges it was a work-related injury
  • You do not have any pre-existing conditions that affect the same area of your body

However, even in this case, you may choose to get a free consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney to walk you through the process, warn you of any pitfalls you might encounter, and give you an honest appraisal of whether you can handle the situation on your own.

Anytime your workers’ comp claim is more complex, it’s time to hire an experienced and skilled legal team. For example, if your employer or their insurance company denies your claim or offers you a settlement that doesn’t cover your medical bills and lost wages, your lawyer can help protect your rights and fight for fair compensation. You will need an attorney if your boss retaliates against you for filing a claim or you were injured because of serious misconduct or gross negligence.

Insurance companies have a team of highly trained lawyers and insurance adjusters who are skilled negotiators. Hiring your own workers’ compensation attorney can tip the scales in your favor. The legal team at OnderLaw works on a contingency fee basis, so you have no upfront legal fees. This means you have everything to gain by contacting our team.

How OnderLaw Could Help

At OnderLaw, we recognize that each person has a unique story, and it’s our first priority to seek justice for those who have been harmed by the reckless and negligent acts of others. Our legal team is committed to providing you with aggressive, compassionate, and skilled legal representation. If you have a worker’s compensation claim, call our offices today or contact us on our website for a free consultation.