For people who have been injured at work, one of the first concerns is often whether or not they will be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Of course, after an injury, the first priority is to get any necessary medical care. After you receive medical care for your injury, it is time to think about the next steps.
California Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
The California law firm Kneisler and Schondel is made up of attorneys with many years of experience successfully handling workers’ compensation cases and getting benefits for their clients. If you have recently been injured at work, contact us today to learn more about what we can do to help you get the benefits you deserve.
Employee vs. Independent Contractor
To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you must be an employee. Independent contractors are not able to receive workers’ compensation benefits under California law.
However, in some cases, workers are misclassified as independent contractors when they should be considered employees. If you are an independent contractor, it may be a good idea to speak with an attorney regarding your work injury to determine whether or not your employment was misclassified, as you could still be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits if certain conditions apply.
California law has recently addressed determining who is an employee and who is not. The test used to decide this is the “ABC” test. The test used to make this determination is called the “ABC” test. Under this test, a worker is considered an employee unless all three of the following conditions are satisfied:
- The worker is free from direction and control of the hiring entity for the performance of the work, both under the contract for performing the work and in fact;
- The worker performs work that falls outside of the typical course of the hiring entity’s business;
- The worker is customarily involved in an independently established occupation, trade, or business of the same type as that involved in the work they perform.
Reporting Your Injury on Time
Another requirement you must meet to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in California is that you need to report your injury within a specific time frame. You must also file your case before the statute of limitations is up.
In general, you must give your employer written notice of your injury within 30 days after it occurred. Additionally, you will need to formally file your workers’ compensation claim by filling out the employee portion of the claim form. The form should be given to you by your employer.
After you have filled out the employee portion of the form, you must return it to your employer. If you turned in this form within 30 days after your injury, this action would serve as written notice to your employer.
However, there are some exceptions to the notice requirement. Some injuries occur slowly over a long period of time, such as repetitive use injuries or illnesses. If you have an injury or illness that falls into this category, there are different reporting timeline requirements. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you learn if you are still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Injury Must Be Arising Out of and Occurring in the Course of Employment
For you to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, your injury must also arise out of and occur in the course of your employment. An injury or illness is work-related if exposure or an event in the work environment contributed to or caused the resulting condition or substantially aggravated an illness or pre-existing condition.
An important thing to keep in mind is that the injury does not necessarily need to happen on the workplace premises in order for it to be considered a work-related injury eligible for workers’ compensation. For example, if you are injured while traveling, your injury may be work-related if, at the time the injury occurred, you were engaged in work activities in the interest of your employer.
Additionally, if you were injured while working from home, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. An injury while working from home can be considered to be work-related if it occurs while you are performing work for compensation or pay in your home, and the illness or injury is directly related to your performance of the work rather than to your general home environment. If you are unsure of whether your injury or illness arose out of or occurred in the course of your employment, an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can review the facts of your case and decide how to move forward.