If you’ve been injured at work, you’ve probably heard that you can file for workers’ compensation benefits that will pay for your medical bills and a portion of your lost income. It’s unlikely, however, that you were told about these benefits by your boss. After all, it’s in an employer’s best interest to minimize workers’ compensation claims.
Every time an employee files a workers’ comp claim, the employer must notify its workers’ compensation insurance carrier and, as a result, the employer will experience a premium rate hike. In other words, employee injuries have a direct impact on a business’ bottom line.
California has some of the worst workers’ compensation premium rates in the country
To make matters worse for employers, California has some of the worst workers’ compensation premium rates in the country. It’s only behind New York as the state with the highest index rate, according to a study from the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.
While high, premium rates in California have improved over the last few years, keeping in trend with falling workers’ compensation rates nationwide. What does this mean for injured workers? First, it’s important to understand how workers’ compensation insurance works.
How workers’ compensation insurance works
Just as an auto insurance company pays for a passenger’s medical bills following a car accident, workers’ compensation insurance pays for medical and rehabilitation expenses when an employee suffers an injury on the job. If the employee is forced to miss work due to his or her injuries, workers’ compensation also provides reimbursement for a portion of the worker’s lost income. In the event a worker is killed in a job-related accident, workers’ compensation covers reasonable burial costs in addition to death benefits, which are paid to eligible family members.
Workers’ compensation protects employees from the financial consequences of a workplace accident, and it protects employers from being sued by employees for their injuries.
Employers are responsible for purchasing workers’ compensation insurance and paying an annual premium. Workers’ compensation premiums are calculated based on the size of a company’s payroll, the type of work employees do, and the company’s claims experience. Most workers’ compensation premium rates increase year over year. However, an increase in the number of claims or a particular claim that results in extensive surgery and time away from work can cause an employer’s premium to skyrocket.
What this means for injured workers
The best way for an employer to prevent a premium rate increase is to reduce the number of claims it makes against its workers’ compensation insurance policy. Many employers do this by taking steps to enhance safety and minimize on-the-job injuries. Unfortunately, some employers neglect their responsibilities to promote safety in the workplace and deny legitimate workers’ compensation claims.
Others create a culture of fear where workers are afraid to report their injuries at all because they’re afraid of having their hours cut or of being fired. These behaviors are illegal. If you have been injured at work and haven’t reported your injury for fear of retaliation, or you’ve had your workers’ comp claim denied, it’s important to speak to a lawyer.
You have a right to collect workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries. A workers’ comp attorney can help.
In California, all employers are legally required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. They also have to inform employees of their right to file for workers’ compensation benefits should they get hurt on the job. Unfortunately, not all employers do. Many employers make it difficult for injured employees to collect workers’ compensation benefits in an effort to keep their premiums low.
Workers’ compensation premium rates in California are falling
While workers’ compensation premium rates in California are falling, they’re still among the highest in the country. This is a basic cost of running a business, and it’s no excuse for employers to deny legitimate claims and prevent injured workers from getting the benefits they need to recover. If you suspect your workers’ compensation claim has been denied simply because your employer doesn’t want to deal with the expenses of your injury, call us right away.
At the Law Office of Gerald Brody and Associates, we know all of the ways employers try to get out of paying workers’ compensation benefits - and we don’t fall for any of them. We’ve provided legal representation to countless San Diego workers to help them collect full and fair compensation for their injuries, and we can help you, too.
Call us today at (619) 528-9800 to schedule a free consultation.