Workers’ compensation is crucial for many workers across the country, as it can provide valuable financial benefits after a workplace accident. Yet not many workers actually understand even the basics of workers’ comp. It is not a failing on their part, though. More often, employers and companies do very little if anything at all to educate their employees about workers’ compensation, its rules, and its benefits.
To help spread more information about workers’ compensation to more people, our team from the Law Offices of Wax & Wax has answered five more questions about it. Last year, we posted a similar blog that answered five other questions, so we highly encourage you to read it as well if you have not already. We also have a helpful FAQ page with more information.
- Does liability matter in a workers’ compensation claim?
In a personal injury claim, liability matters. If you’re liable for your own injuries, then you can only collect a reduced amount of compensation if any. Workers’ compensation claims are different, though. Liability is set aside, meaning an injured worker can still get workers’ comp if it was their own mistake that caused their injury.
- Can independent contractors have workers’ compensation coverage?
Typically, employers are under no legal obligation to provide workers’ compensation coverage to independent contractors. Many employers work mostly with contracted workers for this reason, as it lets them reduce their spending on insurance premiums. Being an independent contractor does not automatically mean you do not get workers’ comp coverage, though, as some employers do give this benefit to all workers. You should also be aware that some dishonest employers will misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying workers’ comp benefits to them in case of an injury.
- When a claim is denied, is that the end?
The California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board can review denied workers’ compensation claims and reach a new decision or affirm the old one. If your claim has been denied, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your next step, such as how to carefully prepare a case to present to the Board.
- What is maximum medical improvement?
A patient has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) when they are no longer expected to heal further from their injuries, even with the best available medicine and treatment options. MMI is important in workers’ compensation because it factors into whether or not a claimant can seek long-term or disability benefits. If you have reached your maximum medical improvement but you still cannot come back to work, then you would need long-term benefits, which your employer’s insurance company will not want to provide.
- Can you get fired because you are using workers’ comp?
California makes it illegal for any employer to fire an employee who is on disability due to a workplace injury. Employers can be penalized for wrongfully terminating an employee receiving disability pay. Usual penalties include additional money provided to the employee and the mandatory reinstatement of their job in the same position. There can be exceptions to this rule, though, such as when a company needs to dissolve or shutter an entire department due to bankruptcy concerns.