What is workers’ compensation?
No matter how careful an employee is when performing his or her job duties, accidents happen. A slip and fall, repetitive stress injury, or car accident can cause an employee to miss months of work. On top of lost income, the costs of recovery for a broken bone, dislocated shoulder, or spinal cord injury can be staggering, adding another layer of stress to an already tense situation. That’s where workers’ compensation can provide immense relief.
Workers’ compensation exists to protect employees from suffering the financial consequences of getting injured or ill on the job. Eligible employees can file a workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits that help cover missed wages and medical expenses – regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Unfortunately, many employers try to deny the claims of injured workers and avoid paying the benefits they desperately need. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will fight hard on your behalf until you receive every last dollar you’re entitled to.
How do I know if I’m eligible for workers’ compensation?
Many employees are surprised to learn that not everyone is covered by workers’ compensation. In general, the following three criteria must be met in order for an employee to be eligible for benefits:
The Company You Work for Must Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance
While all California businesses are legally required to carry workers’ comp insurance, not all of them follow the rules. If you suffer a work-related illness or injury and your employer is not insured, you are not eligible to file a claim and collect benefits. In this situation, however, you can hire a lawyer and sue your employer for missed wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
You must be an employee of the company
In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you must be legally classified as an employee of the company you work for. If you are a contractor, consultant, or volunteer, for example, you are not an employee. Unfortunately, some employers misclassify employees as independent contractors on purpose. If you have been denied benefits for this reason, consider speaking with an attorney to discuss your rights.
Your injury or illness must be related to your job duties
If you become injured or sick while doing something for the benefit of your employer, it’s most likely covered by workers’ compensation. For example, if you slip and fall on a wet kitchen floor at your restaurant job or develop carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of typing, your injuries are clearly related to your job duties and therefore make you eligible to file for workers’ compensation.
In California, undocumented workers are covered by workers’ compensation. If you meet the basic eligibility requirements for workers’ compensation, an experienced attorney can help you file the proper claim forms to collect benefits.
What kind of workplace injuries does workers’ compensation cover?
If you’ve been injured at work, you may have been told that workers’ compensation will cover your medical expenses. Workers’ compensation typically pays for all doctor visits, medications, surgeries, physical therapy, and special equipment required to diagnose and treat your injury or illness. In some instances, such as claims for mental illness or emotional disorders, your benefits may also cover services like psychotherapy and counseling.
Not only do injured workers have their hospital and rehabilitation bills paid for by their employer’s insurance company, they’re also entitled to disability payments that help make up for lost wages during recovery. When you file for workers’ compensation, your injury will be classified as one of four different types of disability:
- Temporary total disability
- Temporary partial disability
- Permanent total disability
- Permanent partial disability
Your disability will depend on the severity of your injury and how it affects your ability to perform your regular job duties. The amount you receive will be based on what you were earning prior to your accident, which comes out to about two-thirds of your wages.
Are you filing for workers’ compensation?
The complexities of the workers’ compensation system are difficult to navigate alone – especially when you’re trying to focus on recovering from a serious injury or illness. At the Law Office of Gerald D. Brody & Associates, we specialize in helping employees who have been injured on the job make sense of their workers’ compensation claim so they can receive maximum benefits as quickly as possible. You have enough on your plate – allow us to take it from here. To see what we can do for you, give us a call at (619) 528-9800.