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 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 frequent questions about it. Previously, 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. Keep reading for answers to your workers’ comp questions.
Q: Does Liability Matter in a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In a personal injury claim, liability matters. If you are 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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 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.
Q: 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.
Filing a Claim
Following a workplace accident, you are confused and overwhelmed with the prospect of pursuing the compensation you deserve. Due to the stressful and urgent nature of the situation, you may be further unsure of whether you should fight for workers’ compensation benefits through your employer’s insurance or by pursuing litigation in court. Determining the best course of action for your situation is based upon the details of your case.
Exceptions To The Rule
If your employer was directly at fault for your accident, they may be held liable for the injuries they have caused. Typically, you lose the right to your workers’ compensation benefits if you file suit against your employer.
However, there are rare exceptions to this rule, and they include:
- If your injury was caused by your employer’s extreme negligence, such as failing to provide adequate equipment or training materials
- If your injury was caused by a negligent third-party who is not employed by your company, such as a contractor, vendor, chemical or equipment manufacturer, etc.
One of the most important benefits of pursuing a lawsuit against your employer for a workplace injury is that you are allowed the option to seek additional damages for pain and suffering. If you choose to settle for workers’ compensation benefits without a lawsuit, you will not be eligible for noneconomic damages.
Injured At Work & Seeking Compensation You Deserve? Our Legal Team Can Help
If you have been injured on the job and are unsure of how to proceed, you do not have to face this challenging time alone. The Law Offices of Wax & Wax is comprised of leading workers’ compensation attorneys who have cultivated a legacy of justice and excellence on behalf of the injured. Whether you would like to pursue a lawsuit or negotiate a settlement instead, we have the innovative skill and unparalleled integrity you need on your side.
Contact us at your earliest convenience to speak to a member of our trustworthy firm. Call (818) 946-0608.