Workers’ Comp Lawyer
The facts surrounding workers’ compensation laws are not always straightforward. Between when is an appropriate time to file a claim or when it’s best to hire a Bakersfield workers’ comp lawyer, many injured workers often share the same confusion and concerns.
If you were recently injured in a workplace accident, legal representation may be needed. However, before hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer, here are some facts to familiarize yourself with California’s workers’ comp system.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
As a form of insurance, workers’ compensation laws are meant to protect employees after sustaining illness or injury while working. Employers are obligated to provide benefits to their affected workers in the form of medical care, physical therapy, or lost wages.
Under California Labor Code Section 3700, workers’ compensation is required in California for any employer who employs one or more workers, regardless of part-time or full-time status.
Workers’ compensation is a vital program that helps to protect both workers and employers, as it provides financial assistance to injured workers and prevents lawsuits from being filed against employers.
In order to qualify for benefits, employees must notify their employer within 30 days of the date the injury was discovered. Then, a workers’ comp claim must be filed with the employer within one year of the date of injury.
Within 90 days of receiving the claim form, the employer must accept or deny the claim. Failing to respond within the allotted time frame may result in accepting liability by default, under the 90-day rule for workers’ compensation in California.
How Long Can You Be On Workers’ Comp in California?
The length of time someone can be on workers’ compensation will vary on their injuries or illness, along with how much is needed to recover from their ailments. For clarity on the types of benefits you qualify for, speak with a Bakersfield workers’ compensation attorney
- Temporary disability benefits are paid while on leave from work. It lasts for a maximum of 104 weeks (two years total) within a 5-year span, beginning from the date of injury.
- Permanent disability benefits are paid when a permanent injury prevents an employee from returning to work. Compensation for lost earning capacity can be received in a lump sum or weekly payments for a certain number of weeks or years, depending on the extent of the disability.
- Medical benefits cover all medical bills for a work-related injury or illness. An injured worker should never be charged for medical treatment that is needed due to a work-related injury. Medical benefits may be subject to utilization review, the process of a medical provider evaluating the necessity of medical treatment.
There are some exceptions, and in some instances, employers are not always compliant with California’s laws. If you have any questions regarding an injury or illness that is directly related to your job, speak with an experienced Bakersfield workers’ compensation lawyer.
At Horizon Accident Lawyers, we help injured workers understand their rights and legal options when it comes to filing workers’ comp claims.
Common Types of Injuries Reported in a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Benefits for a workplace injury are designed to cover current medical treatment, as well as future medical care for any injuries that cause disability, ultimately affecting the employee’s well-being. Common injuries that a workers’ compensation attorney can assist you claim damages for include:
Unlike other workplace injuries, carpal tunnel often develops with time and is not immediately apparent. As a nerve injury that causes pain and numbness in the forearm, wrists, and fingers, carpal tunnel can interfere with employees being able to work with their hands.
Broken Bones and Fractures
Any injury that causes breaks anywhere in the body will require a long recovery time and has the potential to interfere with regular daily activities. Depending on the severity, this type of injury can also affect an employee’s earned wages, especially if mobility is a regular part of the occupation.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
This is another type of injury that is not immediately apparent and can worsen with time. Repetitive activities like pushing, pulling, lifting, and bending that are performed daily can cause lifelong physical ailments.
Back Injuries and Neck Injuries
An injured worker with damage to the back and neck area can result in chronic pain, discomfort, and in some cases, permanent damage, such as paralysis. Compensation may be available to victims whose quality of life was affected by these types of injuries.
Injuries from Car Accidents
Professional drivers (truck drivers, delivery drivers, etc.) and employees who were tasked to drive while on company time may be eligible for workers’ compensation in the event of an accident. In these types of cases, compensation may be provided by workers’ comp insurance, as well as a third party if another driver was liable for causing the car accident.
Construction Site Injuries
Professions that require the use of heavy machinery and equipment with sharp edges have the potential to cause serious injuries. If an injury at a job site results in a severe injury, like amputation, the victim may not be able to return to the same line of work, ultimately affecting earning capacity.
Harsh impact on the skull can cause traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other brain injuries, all of which are capable of affecting muscle strength, motor skills, speech, vision, and even changes in personality or behavior.
Even with safety protocols in place, some workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals on the job and may suffer an injury or illness as a result. This can happen through inhalation, ingestion, skin contact, or eye contact with hazardous substances.
Experiencing loud and harsh noises regularly can result in permanent hearing damage. As a result, hearing loss can be career-ending and affect a person’s quality of life.
How a Bakersfield Workers’ Compensation Attorney Helps
Employers are legally required to provide workers’ compensation benefits to all workers. If for any reason injured employees are denied their benefits, a workers’ compensation attorney can provide assistance in obtaining the compensation that is owed.
Examples of when to hire a workers’ comp attorney include:
- The legitimacy of the claim is being disputed by an employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company
- Workplace accident resulted in permanent injuries
- Workplace accident resulted in life-changing injuries
- Insurance is blaming injuries on a pre-existing condition
- The settlement offer does not appear to cover the full extent of damages
- A fair settlement cannot be reached with the workers’ compensation insurance company
Just like in a personal injury case, the role of an attorney in filing a workers’ compensation claim is to preserve injured workers’ rights and ensure they are receiving a full and fair settlement.
By the time injured workers realize that a previously agreed-upon settlement is not sufficient enough to cover all of their medical expenses, like physical therapy, corrective surgery, or pain management, the opportunity to collect maximum compensation will have passed.
This is why it’s always a good idea to have an experienced workers’ comp lawyer review a case before finalizing any legal agreements. At Horizon Accident Lawyers, our personal injury law firm offers a 100% confidential and free consultation to all prospective clients who have questions regarding their workplace accidents.
Benefits a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Will Fight For
In addition to immediate medical treatment, employers often owe employees a fuller range of workers’ compensation coverage. When working with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer, the following benefits will become more attainable.
- Medical Expenses: All reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to a work injury should be compensated by an employer. This includes the cost of surgeries, prescriptions, counseling, physical therapy, diagnostic testing, as well as transportation to and from medical facilities.
- Temporary Disability Benefits (TDB): Injured employees may receive two-thirds of their gross wages, including regular income, tips, commission, overtime, bonuses, etc. Generally, benefits stop when the employee is able to return to work.
- Permanent Disability Benefits (PDB): When the treating physician concludes that an employee will never fully recover from a work-related injury or illness, permanent disability benefits kick in. Commission rates are based on the Statewide Average Weekly Wage.
- Lost Financial Support: If a death occurs, the dependents who relied on the lost income may be eligible for financial support. These benefits are intended to replace the income that would have been earned if the injury had not occurred.
- Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit (SJDB): Employees who are unable to return to their previous job due to injury may be eligible for retraining benefits. A non-transferable voucher is provided to cover the costs of educational retraining or skill enhancement from a state-approved or accredited school.
- California Return-to-Work Supplement Program: These benefits provide employees who are displaced from working with a one-time payment of $5,000. This payment is intended to help employees with the cost of transportation, child care, and other expenses while they are transitioning back to work.
Schedule a Free Consultation for Your Work Comp Case
Injured workers are entitled to benefits after experiencing workplace accidents. However, the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim can be demanding, complex, and challenging. That’s why it’s important to speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
If you have been injured on the job, contact the Bakersfield workers’ compensation lawyers at Horizon Accident Lawyers today for a free consultation. We will help you understand your legal rights and assist with filing your workers’ comp claim so that you can receive the benefits that you deserve.