The California Workers’ Compensation system was created to help employees get back on their feet after suffering a work-related injury or illness. Workers’ compensation benefits include the payment of medical bills determined to be reasonable and related to the work injury, compensation for lost wages as a result of the injury, and compensation for any permanent partial or permanent total disability to the body caused by the injury.
After being injured at work, some crucial steps must be followed in order to ensure that you receive the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled. For this reason, it is always a good idea to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after suffering a work injury or illness. An attorney can help ensure that you are meeting any necessary filing deadlines and that you are moving forward with your case effectively.
California Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you are looking for legal representation for your workers’ compensation case in California, contact the law firm of Kneisler and Schondel today. Attorney Matthew Schondel has the experience and skills to help you obtain the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve.
The legal team at Kneisler and Schondel takes pride in their ability to help all of their clients with a personalized approach. We understand how frustrating it can be for someone to suffer an injury at work and then suddenly have their life turned upside down, unsure how to move forward. We are here to help injured workers navigate the legal aspects of their workers’ compensation claims so that they can focus on their health and eventually return to work.
What Should I Do Immediately Following a Work Injury?
The most important thing to do right after you have been injured at work is to seek medical care immediately. Depending on the nature of your injury, this might mean going to the emergency room right away.
Seek Medical Treatment for Your Injury
Even if you do not think your injury is that serious, it is still always a good idea to get checked out by a doctor, regardless. It is not unusual for an adrenaline rush to mask pain and other symptoms temporarily right after you are injured. You may not know the true extent of your injuries until the following day or possibly even later. After you have obtained any necessary immediate medical care, continue to follow your physician’s instructions regarding follow-up visits and any other recommendations.
Report Your Work Injury to Your Employer
Once you have addressed any immediate concerns regarding your health, the next step to take is to report your work injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible. Reporting your injury to your employer is a critical step, as you can lose your right to workers’ compensation benefits if you do not report your injury in time.
After you tell your employer about your work injury, you should be provided with a claim form to fill out. Your employer is required to mail the form to you or otherwise provide it to you within one working day after you report your injury.
If you do not receive a claim form from your employer, you can find the form here on the State of California Industrial Relations website. Be sure to fill it out accurately and completely, but keep in mind that you only need to fill out the “Employee” section of the form. We recommend that you make a copy of the form after completing it to keep for your records, and also to show to your attorney down the road.
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Am I Eligible For?
Since every case is different, we cannot say for sure which workers’ compensation benefits you are eligible for without reviewing your case, but there are several different benefits that are common for California employees who are injured on the job to receive after filing a claim. These workers’ compensation benefits can include the following:
- Payment of Medical Bills
Generally, all of the medical bills that you have incurred as a result of your work-related injury or illness should be paid by your employer. However, these medical bills must be both reasonable and related to your work injury.
In some cases, disputes can arise between the injured worker and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier regarding whether or not certain forms of treatment or procedures are truly related to the work injury. Disputes also occur regarding the reasonableness of medical treatment and/or the resulting bills.
If a dispute arises in your case and you are being denied authorization of treatment or surgery for this reason, this is a great time to contact a workers’ compensation attorney for help if you have not hired a lawyer already. Your attorney may be able to quickly turn things around in your case and get your medical treatment authorized—and if they cannot convince the insurance carrier to change its mind, they can take the matter before the judge.
- Temporary Disability Benefits
Another workers’ compensation benefit that many California workers are eligible to receive is temporary disability benefit payments. Temporary disability benefits are payments that you can receive when your injury or illness prohibits you from returning to your former job.
This benefit is calculated at a rate of two-thirds of your average weekly wage (pre-tax). It is important to note here that your temporary disability benefit rate is subject to the California state maximum and minimum benefit rates, which can change from year to year. You can find the maximum and minimum benefit rates on the State of California Department of Industrial Relations webpage here.
You can also be eligible for temporary disability benefits even in cases in which you are able to return to work but must work with certain restrictions. If you are given a different position by your employer in which you make less money, or if you are given fewer work hours, you are typically eligible to receive two-thirds of the difference between what you make now compared to your earnings prior to the work injury.
- Permanent Disability Benefits
If your work injury or illness causes any lasting or permanent disability which impacts your ability to make a living, you can be eligible for permanent disability benefits. Even if you end up being able to return to work in some capacity, you can still receive this benefit.
Permanent disability benefits are calculated based on many different factors, which include:
- Your date of injury;
- Your age;
- Your occupation;
- Your wage rate prior to your injury; and
- Your impairment level as determined by your treating physician or a qualified medical evaluator (QME) and expressed as a percentage.
You can receive this benefit via weekly payments, but in many cases, you will receive compensation for permanent disability benefits at the time of settlement. If your case settles, all issues are typically resolved at that time in exchange for a lump sum payment. Your workers’ compensation attorney can give you more details regarding what to expect if you are settling your case.
- Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits
If your work injury occurred on or after January 1, 2013, and you have been found to have a permanent partial disability resulting from your injury, you may also be entitled to supplemental job displacement benefits. When an employer is unable to offer regular, suitable, modified, or alternative work within 60 days of receiving notice that an injured worker has a permanent partial disability, that worker can receive this benefit to help them return to the workforce.
In California, the supplemental job displacement benefit is provided as a non-transferable voucher valued at a total of $6,000. You can use the voucher to obtain training at a California public school or another provider found on the eligible training provider list. You can also use the voucher to pay for certification, testing, or licensing fees, as well as to purchase computer equipment or tools required by a training course. There are some restrictions regarding how much of the voucher can be used to pay for other miscellaneous expenses, so be sure to check with your attorney to ensure that you are using the voucher properly if you receive one.
How to Get Compensation for Your California Work Injury
In many cases, the best way to make sure that you receive the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve is to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to represent you. There are many benefits to hiring an attorney to handle your case on your behalf.
With an attorney on your side, you will not have to worry about negotiating your own settlement or trying to figure out how to take your own case to trial. If you have recently been injured at work and you are ready to move forward with filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, the legal team at Kneisler and Schondel can get the process started for you. Contact us today to find out more about what we can do to help you get the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve so that you can move on with your life and focus on healing.