Have you or someone you love suffered an accident on the job? Did this accident leave you with debilitating injuries? If so, you may be eligible for a workers’ compensation claim. The San Jose injury attorneys of OnderLaw have been helping local residents and workers across the country get the compensation they need to get their life back after a workplace injury.

Call us today for a free consultation. Let us help you get the just compensation you deserve.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ Compensation (WC) insurance is one of the oldest social safety net systems in existence. It is an insurance policy that nearly all employers in California must have by law. This insurance pays benefits to workers who are injured on the job. WC insurance covers a wide variety of injuries, diseases, and conditions. If you are harmed, injured, or contract a disease while on the job, you may be eligible for WC benefits. Employers must have a specific WC policy in addition to any general liability insurance they may carry.

California is a no-fault WC state, which means that employees cannot sue their employers for WC claims. In exchange for this bar against suing the employer, employees don’t have to prove that their employer was at fault for their injury, only that the injury occurred while they were on the job or as a result of working.

Who Qualifies for WC Benefits?

Any employee who is injured on the job or contracts a condition or disease due to hazardous working conditions can file a claim for WC benefits. These benefits are not taxable and cover a wide range of expenses and losses.

WC benefits are not paid to independent contractors, volunteers, people that work in exchange for aid such as food and housing, student athletes, amateur sports officials, sole proprietors, business owners, and freelancers.

What WC Benefits Are Available?

WC benefits are designed to provide relief for a specific set of losses depending on the injury and the insurance policy. WC benefits include the following:

Temporary Disability benefits. Temporary disability (TD) benefits are paid out to workers that are injured on the job and can’t return to work at all, or can’t return to work in the same capacity they were in before the injury or condition. TD payments are usually ⅔ of the injured worker’s average weekly earnings. Under California WC, there are minimum and maximum amounts for TD benefits. These benefits are typically paid bi-weekly, with a maximum of 104 weeks paid within any five-year period. Depending on the injury or condition, the worker may be eligible for TTD, temporary total disability, meaning they cannot work at all while injured, or TPD, temporary partial disability, meaning they can work but can only complete part of their normal job functions.

Medical benefits. Medical benefits cover any and all medical charges associated with the injury or condition. This can include hospital stays, doctor’s visits, surgery, rehabilitation, therapy, purchase of medical devices or prosthetics, prescription medication, or any amount paid out for transportation to and from medical facilities.

Permanent disability benefits. If an accident at work leaves you with a permanent disability, you are eligible for WC benefits. The amount of benefits you receive is determined by the severity of your injury, your occupation, your age, and a doctor’s opinion about your disability. The relative amount of disability is expressed as a percentage, with 0% being fully functional and 100% being totally disabled. You can receive permanent disability benefits anywhere from four weeks to 14 years.

Life pension payments. If you were severely disabled and can never return to work, you are eligible to receive life pension payments in addition to permanent disability payments. This is a weekly payment determined by the average weekly earnings amount in California. Only workers who have a relative disability percentage from 70% to 99% are eligible for these benefits.

Supplemental job displacement benefits. If you are injured at work and the injury results in your employer not being able to employ you anymore after you reach maximum medical improvement, you can receive benefits to help you switch to another type of job. You would be eligible to claim $6,000 in vocational retraining vouchers to pay for education or training expenses, new equipment, or new licenses or certificates.

Return to work supplement fund. Workers who have received supplemental job displacement benefits are also eligible to receive a return-to-work supplemental payment of $5,000 to cover expenses not addressed by the vouchers provided under supplemental job displacement benefits. Your injury must have occurred after 2013 for you to be eligible for these funds.

Death benefits. If an accident at work ended in the death of a loved one or anyone upon whom you are financially dependent, you are eligible for death benefits.

Compensable consequences. If your work-related injury results in additional injuries in the future, you can receive benefits for these losses. For example, if a workplace accident results in you losing the feeling in your hand and you suffer a burn from accidentally holding a hot object in the future, you can claim the same benefits you would if the burn accident had occurred at work.

Steps to Take if You’ve Been Injured at Work

Being injured and applying for workers’ compensation benefits is never an easy situation. It’s important to remember that even though you may have developed strong relationships with your colleagues and supervisors if you are injured at work, you are owed benefits by law, and your employer cannot interfere, dissuade, intimidate, or prevent you from filing for benefits. It’s also illegal under California law for your employer to fire you for seeking benefits.

If you’re injured on the job, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from liability and start the claims process:

  1. Notify your employer. This can be your immediate supervisor, the company owner, or anyone in a position of authority at your place of work. This step is vital to the claims process, as several benefits start paying out the day that your employer is notified that you’ve been injured, and if you don’t report your injury within 30 days, you lose eligibility for WC benefits. Your employer may ask you to visit a physician or hospital on an approved list of medical providers called the MPN. This list is a network of medical professionals that handle workers’ compensation injuries for employees of your company.
  2. Get medical attention. Get to a safe place, assess your injuries, and if necessary, get medical attention immediately. Even if your injuries don’t appear severe, it’s a good idea to get a full medical evaluation. Many injuries such as concussions or internal injuries don’t manifest immediately, and you may not even realize you are injured without testing. Make sure your physician knows that the injury is work-related, and if possible, get documentation from them asserting this.
  3. Request and submit a WC claim form. Your employer is required by California law to supply you with a WC claim form within one day of your injury. Fill out this form and return it to your employer to complete and submit. Make sure to request a copy for your records.
  4. Contact a WC attorney immediately. Although WC insurance is required by state law, these benefits are administered and paid by private insurance companies, who will do everything they can to deny claims to protect their bottom line. It’s essential that you hire a qualified attorney to assist you.

California Workplace Injury Statistics

Here are some statistics and information regarding workplace injuries and fatalities in California in 2017:

  • 22% of workplace deaths in California in 2017 were attributed to slip and fall cases
  • There were an estimated 466,600 workplace injuries and illnesses in California in 2017 that did not result in death
  • The highest rates of illness and injury occurred in the cleaning and maintenance industry, construction industry workers were second-highest, and transportation workers were third-highest
  • 376 workers died on the job in California in 2017
  • One in five deaths were caused by assaults
  • Two in five deaths were transportation-related

Why Hire OnderLaw for My Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Here are three reasons you should choose OnderLaw to represent you:

  1. We’ve been doing this a while. We’ve been in operation nearly two decades, and we’ve seen it all. From workers’ compensation to wrongful death claims, we have the knowledge and experience to provide you with competent, compassionate, and comprehensive legal counsel.
  2. We give back to our communities because we wouldn’t be here without them. We give regularly to charitable organizations like Toys for Tots, MADD, and Lupus Foundation of America.
  3. Lastly, because we like to win. We’ve successfully obtained over $3 billion in settlements and awards for our clients, and we can use the same skills we used in those cases to help you get compensation for your work injury.

Call Today for a Free Consultation

If you’ve been injured on the job and are having trouble claiming your workers’ compensation benefits, don’t wait any longer. Call the attorneys at OnderLaw for a free, no-obligation consultation, and let us help you get the benefits you’re owed. Call today.