San Bernardino is home to a wide variety of industries. The healthcare, mining, retail, and transportation industries are well represented throughout the city and county. With such an active and varied workforce, workplace injuries and illnesses are a common occurrence.

Have you sustained injury or illness while on the job in San Bernardino? Have you had difficulty applying for workers’ compensation insurance, or is your employer not doing all they should? If so, consider speaking to the San Bernardino personal injury attorneys of OnderLaw. We have nearly two decades of experience helping injured workers get the benefits they’re entitled to, and we can help you to do the same. Call today and let us review your case with a free consultation. Don’t let a workplace injury determine the course of your life. Call today.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation (WC) insurance is a program that provides benefits to employees that sustain injury or illness while on the job and benefits to families of workers who are killed due to a work-related injury or disease. California law requires that all employers provide WC insurance for their employees, regardless of the company’s size.

A WC claim is different from a personal injury claim in a few ways. First, receiving WC benefits does not require the worker to prove negligence, only that the injury or disease is work-related. Second, receiving WC benefits usually requires workers to release their employer from liability and disallows them from suing their employer in civil court. The WC system is intended to protect both employers and employees.

Although the state mandates workers’ compensation insurance, the policies are still controlled by private insurance companies.

Who Qualifies for WC Benefits?

WC insurance covers almost any work-related injury or disease, with some exceptions. The exact coverage varies by employer and policy, but in general, any one-time injury, repetitive stress injury, or work-related illness should be covered.

Workers not covered by WC insurance include volunteers, independent contractors, those working for aid or sustenance, those working for less than 52 hours or less than $100, and those employed by their spouse, parent, or child.

What Types of Benefits are Available?

WC Insurance provides five primary benefits to workers:

  • Medical benefits. Your employer’s policy should cover any medical treatment that is reasonably required to relieve the effects of the injury or disease. Your doctor can even treat you if you choose to predesignate a physician before the injury occurs. If you do not predesignate a doctor, one will be selected for you by your claims administrator.
  • Temporary disability benefits. TD benefits supplement income lost while recovering from your injury. The amount is usually two-thirds of your gross wages, and payments begin when your physician says you can’t return to work for more than three days or you are hospitalized overnight.
  • Permanent disability benefits. PD benefits are paid to workers that sustain a lasting injury or disease that affects their ability to work, even if they can return to the same job as before the injury. These benefits are limited, and the worker’s age, occupation, and relative impairment level determine the amount paid.
  • Supplemental Job Displacement Program. SJDB is a state-funded program that provides vouchers to pay for retraining, education, tools, equipment, certification, licensing, or vocational counseling for workers that can’t return to work in the same capacity as before the injury. The voucher is non-transferrable and worth up to $6,000.
  • Death benefits. These are benefits paid to the family and dependents of workers who die while working or succumb to a work-related disease. The number of total and partial dependents determines the dollar amount of the benefit, up to $10,000. It can be used for funeral or burial expenses.
  • Compensable consequences. If your workplace injury causes other injuries in the future, you may be able to obtain compensation for “compensable consequences.” For example, if a workplace-related illness causes damage to your lungs and you develop COPD or pneumonia in the future, you may be eligible for compensable consequence payments.
  • Life pension. This is a payment issued to PD benefit recipients after those benefits are exhausted.

Steps to Take if You’ve Been Injured at Work

  • Notify your manager or employer. As soon as possible after the injury, advise your employer with a written, dated, and signed note. Make sure to retain a copy for your records.
  • Get medical attention. Even if you aren’t severely injured or ill, this step is necessary to start the WC claims process. Get a complete evaluation by a medical professional and obtain a copy of their report. It is illegal for a doctor to charge you for treatment if they know the injury or illness is work-related.
  • File a claim. Your employer is required to provide a claim form within one business day of being notified of your injury. Fill out the employee portion of the document and return it to your employer as soon as possible. You only have thirty days from the date of injury to file a claim.
  • Get a lawyer. Retain legal counsel as soon as possible after your injury. They will answer any questions you have about the process.

San Bernardino Workplace Injury Statistics

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

  • The occupational fatality rate in California in 2016 was 2.2 workers per 100,000.
  • Transportation incidents caused the most workplace fatalities in California in 2016.
  • Two-fifths of workplace fatalities in California in 2016 were workers born outside the United States.
  • Nationwide, workers 65 and older are almost three times more likely to suffer a fatal workplace injury than the total worker population.
  • 376 workers died while on the job in California in 2016.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer for My Workers’ Compensation Claim?

The WC process goes smoothly for many injured workers in San Bernardino, and hiring an attorney may seem unnecessary. If your employer knows the injury or disease was work-related and wants to help, why would you need a lawyer?

Problems can quickly arise with WC claims due to the complexity of the system and the fact that many people need to agree on the best course of action. You may disagree with the doctor’s diagnosis. You may have trouble obtaining all the necessary evidence to prove your claim, or your employer may be illegally refusing to carry WC insurance. Filing an accurate claim within the thirty-day window while simultaneously recovering from your injury or illness can be an uphill task. Hiring an attorney to assist can make the process much easier to manage.

Your attorney will work hard to get you all the benefits owed to you and to protect your rights. We will make sure your claim is complete and error-free. We will also take on the work of investigating the accident and gathering the documentation and evidence needed to support your claim, so you have the time you need to recover and get back to work.

Should your employer attempt to retaliate against you in any way or if their insurance company denies your claim, your lawyer can assist you in filing a lawsuit.

You may not need an attorney, but if something should go wrong with your claim, you’ll be glad you have one.

How OnderLaw Can Help

We are standing by to assist you with filing your WC claim. We have years of experience helping injured workers get the benefits they’re owed, and we can put that wealth of knowledge to work for you and your family.

We handle claims of all shapes and sizes, from workers’ compensation claims to multi-million dollar lawsuits against companies like Johnson & Johnson, but to us, the size of your claim matters less than how we can best help you through this challenging time. We don’t just provide top-tier legal counsel for our clients. We provide support, compassion, and respect.

This perspective extends beyond our clients. We donate time and money to charitable organizations and causes that help those less fortunate such as MADD, the Lupus Foundation of America, and Toys for Tots.

There are no up-front fees for our services. We work on contingency, which means we take our payment out of any settlement or award we obtain for you. If we aren’t successful in getting you the compensation you need, we don’t get paid.

We’ve successfully obtained over $3.5 billion in awards since our founding in 2002. We can’t guarantee a favorable outcome for every case, but we can guarantee we will work hard to get you the help you need to move on after a workplace injury.

Call OnderLaw Today

You have a limited time to file a WC claim, so don’t delay any longer. Call the attorneys at OnderLaw and let us make sure that you get the full WC benefits owed to you. The first consultation is absolutely free, and you’re under no obligation. Call today and let us review your case. We only take payment if you get the compensation you deserve, so you have nothing to lose. Call today.