When you are injured on the job and need to take time off to get better, your world may be turned upside down. The fear of missing work and, therefore, losing out on wages adds to the stress you are already experiencing. Fortunately, that's why workers' compensation is required in California. It's a way to protect employees when they are injured while working. But workers' compensation is not always straightforward, and employers will sometimes challenge your claim, adding insult to injury.
At the LAW OFFICE OF SHANE P. BRADLEY, APC, our workers' compensation attorney in Sacramento handles all types of workers' comp cases. We help both employees and employers comply with the law. We also ensure their rights are upheld and provide guidance so that they meet their respective responsibilities. One thing we know is this: informed clients make better decisions. Here, we answer many of the most commonly asked questions we get about workers' compensation. To get more specific answers, however, it is best to contact our workers' comp lawyer at (916) 755-5929 to schedule a Free Consultation.
What Does Workers' Compensation Not Cover in California?
While workers' compensation provides compensation for many different job injuries, there are limits to what it will cover. The following are some examples of situations where workers' compensation may not be available. For instance:
- Injuries an employee sustains while under the influence of drugs and alcohol
- Injuries purposefully sustained by an employee
- Injuries sustained by an employee while engaged in a practical joke
Who Pays for Workers' Compensation in California?
Employees do not pay for workers' compensation insurance. Instead, employers must purchase it. Most employers purchase coverage from an insurance company or through a program administered by the state. In some cases, large employers fund their worker's compensation program through self-insurance.
Must Employers Carry Workers' Compensation Insurance?
Maintaining workers' compensation insurance, or being permissibly self insured, is a requirement of California State Law,even if an employer only has one employee.
What Happens if an Employer Refuses to File a Workers' Comp Claim in California?
It is possible that an employer will refuse to file a claim on behalf of an injured employee. There could be a number of founded and unfounded reasons for this refusal, from suspicions that the injury did not happen while at work to worries that insurance premiums will increase. Whatever the reason, when an employer refuses to file the claim, the employee is left in a precarious position.
If you are an employee injured on the job, you must put your employer on notice in writing immediately after the injury occurs. You should also seek medical assistance. Then, if the employer challenges your claim, it is in your best interest to retain a competent workers' compensation attorney in California.
Can an Employee Still Get Compensation if the Injury Is Reported Late?
The answer to this question honestly depends on the state and the type of injury. Some injuries are accompanied by delayed symptoms, like whiplash, so you may not know you are injured until after the injury is sustained. Likewise, other injuries may be known, but their connection to the job may not be obvious until later down the road.
For these reasons and more, it may be possible for an injured employee to obtain compensation even when they do not report their injury timely. It is best to report an injury immediately.
Are Diseases Covered by Workers' Compensation?
Yes, a disease can be considered an "injury" for the purpose of workers' compensation. If a person must work in and around toxic chemicals, for example, and they later develop a respiratory disease or another disease, like cancer, as a result of the exposure, then it is compensable if you cannot work while you recover.
Are Mental Health Issues Covered by Workers' Compensation?
Yes, mental health issues are covered by workers' compensation when the mental health injury is predominately caused by the employee's job. Common mental health injuries include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders
Keep in mind, however, these types of injuries are harder to prove than physical injuries.
Can an Employee Select Their Own Doctor for a Workers' Comp Claim?
In most cases, an employee cannot choose which doctor to see for purposes of workers' compensation, but instead they must see the doctor ordered by the employer and/or workers' comp insurance carrier. This requirement is only if the employee wants workers' comp, but employees are always welcome to visit their own doctors as well.
If an employee does not agree with the assessment made by the employer's doctor, they can seek the guidance of a workers' comp attorney in California to discover what other options may be available.
How Long Does Workers' Compensation Last in California?
The average case last between 1-3 years. However, some cases are resolved earlier, and some take more time, depending on the injuries sustained, medical treatment provided, employer and injured worker's willingness to settle, discovery process times, and other factors. Each case is unique.
Do I Need a Workers' Compensation Lawyer in California?
As with most things, whether you need a workers' comp lawyer depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Both employers and employees may need a workers' comp attorney to assist with any given issue. The more challenging the case, the more likely a workers' comp attorney is needed.
Employees may specifically want to hire a workers' compensation lawyer when:
- They have a pre-existing condition
- Symptoms were delayed or developed over time
- Benefits are denied or delayed
- They are prematurely cleared to work
- Reasons exist not to trust the company doctor
- An employer wants them to take an independent medical exam
- An employer claims they are not covered by workers' compensation
- An employer accuses them of fraud
- They are or will soon be eligible for Medicare
Keep in mind, the above are not the only reasons to retain a workers' comp lawyer. Do you and/or your workers' comp claim face any specific or unique challenges? It never hurts to get a qualified opinion, especially when your future financial and medical situation may depend on it.
Contact a Workers' Comp Attorney in Sacramento Today
Workers' compensation in California is there to protect both the employer and employees. Generally, the process goes smoothly, but when it does not, a workers' compensation attorney should be consulted. At the LAW OFFICE OF SHANE P. BRADLEY, APC, our workers' comp lawyer in Sacramento handles these types of cases and will handle yours with integrity and due diligence. Contact us by filling out the online form or calling us at (916) 755-5929 to schedule a Free Consultation.