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Across California, workers expose themselves to the risk of a workplace injury every day. They could be an office employee in San Diego or an agricultural worker in Merced. While the level of risk and the types of harm they suffer can vary, the possibility that an injury prevents them from working is a real concern for both.
Workers’ compensation exists as a way to protect workers after they suffer an injury – ensuring they are not left out of pocket for medical expenses or without any income if they are unable to work. Workers’ compensation rules outline how these benefits are paid, and how a claim for workers’ compensation should be made.
Every Californian employer with one or more employees must have workers’ compensation insurance to cover the cost of workers’ compensation benefits. These are awarded for eligible injuries to cover medical expenses and lost income, regardless of who was at fault for the accident which led to the injury. Employers must prominently display details of their workers’ compensation insurance in their properties, and there are serious consequences for employers who are uninsured.
In general, workers’ compensation will cover any injury sustained while doing something for your employer as part of your employment. This includes accidents which occur on a business’ premises, as well as off-site if an employee was there due to their employment (for example, a salesperson meeting with a client for a business lunch).
When a worker suffers a workplace injury, workers’ compensation will cover expenses for:
If an employee’s injury has been caused by their own serious and willful misconduct, California law says that the benefits to be paid will be reduced by half. However, this rule doesn’t apply if:
If you return to employment on a salary that is the same or higher than before your injury, it is likely that workers’ compensation benefits will stop. However, workers’ compensation can cover a drop in earnings if a workplace injury negatively affects your earning potential. Medical expenses related to the effects of a workplace injury can still be covered after returning to work.
If you are injured while working, you should report the injury to your manager or supervisor in writing within 30 days. Your employer must provide you with a workers’ compensation claim form within one day of reporting the injury. You should also see a doctor about the injury as soon as possible.
A claim must be submitted within one year of the injury which caused the disability. Once you have submitted a claim form for workers’ compensation, your employer should submit this to their workers’ compensation claims administrator. They should also authorize up to $10,000 for necessary medical treatment.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified workers' compensation lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local workers' compensation attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.