Who Can Get Workers’ Compensation Insurance Benefits?

Everyone who works for someone else is covered by a policy of workers’ compensation insurance. The question of whether you work for another or are an “independent contractor” has recently changed significantly in California. It is now harder for an employer to prove you are “independent” and it is more likely a court will find that you are actually an employee.

Can I Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits Even If The Accident Was My Fault?

Workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system. This means you don’t have to prove someone else is “negligent” or did something wrong to cause your injury. Even if the injury is your fault, you still get benefits. The only way you would not get benefits is if you intentionally tried to hurt yourself or you started a fight. The initial aggressor of a fight does not get benefits but all others involved in the fight do get benefits.

What If My Employer Did Not Buy Workers’ Comp Insurance?

There is a fund set up by the state of California called the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund, (aka UEBTF or just UEF) which will pay your workers compensation benefits, if your employer did not buy a policy of insurance to cover you.

Do I Have To Pay An Attorney Upfront To Represent Me In A Workers’ Comp Case?

You never pay an attorney upfront to represent you in a workers’ comp case. It is against the law for an attorney to take any money from an injured worker directly for representation in a workers’ compensation case. If this has happened to you, you should change attorneys immediately.

How Much Does It Cost For an Attorney To Represent Me In A Workers’ Comp Case?

It costs no more than 15 percent of the total settlement amount to be represented in a workers’ compensation case. The workers’ compensation insurance company will write the check to the attorney. A settlement check will be yours with no deductions and it is tax free money to you.

How Soon after my Injury Should I Notify My Employer Of A Work Injury?

You should always notify your employer immediately or as soon as possible that an injury has occurred. Do this to protect your rights. It can be orally or in writing like a text or email message. The best is to get something in writing from your employer that acknowledges you claim you got hurt at work. Your employer does not have to agree you were hurt at work, just acknowledge that you are claiming injury. Your employer has a legal obligation to provide you a workers compensation claim form (DWC-1) within one day of your reporting of a work injury. Once you report your work injury the next step is to visit the company clinic and call an attorney at this time to learn your rights. Remember all consultations with work comp attorneys are free

What Benefits Are Available To Me In Workers Comp?

You are entitled to receive lost wage payments equivalent to 66% of your average weekly gross wage for up to two years. Also, you are reimbursed the cost of driving to doctors and pharmacies at a rate that changes yearly (usually around 55 cents per mile). All of your doctor’s bills are paid fully by workers’ compensation. There are no co-pays, no deductibles, and no maximums. You also are entitled to receive permanent disability, which is usually part of your settlement money. You are entitled to receive job retraining benefits, if your doctor says you cannot return to the work you were doing when you were injured. Job retraining can now be cashed out.

Can I Represent Myself In A Workers’ Comp Case?

Yes you can represent yourself in your work injury case. In fact, if you fail to hire an attorney, you will be representing yourself. You will be going up against the workers’ compensation insurance attorney, which is not a good plan. Every insurance company has attorneys working to assist the claims adjuster in every case, even yours. There is a saying that an attorney that represents himself has a fool for a client. So even attorneys hire attorneys to represent them! How much more should you then! It would be foolish to represent yourself in a system where one side, the insurance company, knows all the rules of the game, and you don’t.

Can I Choose My Own Doctor For My Workers’ Compensation Injury?

Most insurance companies now have a medical provider network called an MPN, which has a list of doctors that you must choose from. You can pick any doctor off the approved list. Most are insurance company friendly and not injured worker friendly. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will know which doctors on the list will be best for you in your case. An experienced workers compensation attorney will take the time to help you select a doctor that is a specialist in the field of medicine you need, near as possible to you, with a reputation for being fair to injured workers and not a “gate-keeper” of insurance profits.

Can My Employer Fire Me If I Am Injured At Work?

Your employer can fire you, if you’re hurt at work, but that would likely be a wrongful termination. If this has happened to you, call us, so we can discuss the details and get you to an employment attorney to help you with this issue. Workers compensation court (called the Workers Compensation Appeals Board or WCAB) can also hear your claim of wrongful termination under Labor Code Section 132(a) which makes it illegal for an employer to terminate, demote or otherwise take away any of your wages or work benefits solely because you have reported your work injury or requested workers compensation benefits. Again, if a termination of employment occurs, you may have both a civil wrongful termination case and a workers compensation wrongful termination case, depending on the facts.

If I Have An Injury And Can Perform Light Work, Must My Employer Find A Job For Me?

Your employer does not have to find a job for you. They do have a legal obligation to search and see if there is modified or alternate work available but it’s very easy for your employer to say they have no light duty work available and the law will usually not question the employer’s decision. Workers’ compensation would have to pay you your temporary total disability or wage loss payments during the period of time that you continue to treat with your doctor and your employer does not allow you to return to work.

For more information on Workers Compensation Benefits In California, a free initial consultation is your best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (562) 426-9500 today.