Santa Clarita Workers' Compensation Attorneys
Workers' Compensation Claims
California has earned a reputation as one of the most employee-friendly states in the nation, as they have extensive protections for workers’ rights. All employers with at least one employee are legally required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This type of insurance is designed to help compensate workers who have been injured in the workplace or suffered an illness related to their job.
If you are injured while at work in California, there are a number of different types of benefits which you may be eligible for.
Am I Eligible for Workers' Compensation Benefits?
If your employer has even one person working for them, they will be required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Furthermore, they must have this coverage even if the one employee is a temporary worker. There are some factors though that can affect eligibility.
You Must Be an Employee
This may seem like a no-brainer, but this is complicated by the existence of independent contractors. Although they may work for an employer, independent contractors are not considered employees and are therefore not eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
However, many workers are misclassified as independent contractors, and should actually be considered employees. If you have been denied benefits because your employer wrongfully classifies you as an independent contractor, call our workers’ compensation attorneys in Santa Clarita today.
The Illness or Injury Must be Related to Work
Perhaps the most complex aspect of a workers’ compensation claim is proving that the injury or illness was actually work-related. In some cases, this is fairly straightforward, such as throwing out your back while lifting heavy items. Other cases, however, can be much more ambiguous.
Insurance companies will often claim that you were guilty of misconduct in order to mitigate the value of your claim; this can include criminal activity, violating safety regulations, and otherwise acting in a prohibited way. For all of these reasons, it is crucial to seek representation from an experienced workers’ comp lawyer in Santa Clarita.
Temporary Disability Benefits
As the name suggests, temporary disability benefits will be payable when your ability to work is partially or completely restricted. You will stop receiving these benefits once your doctor clears you to return to work at normal capacity. There are two types of temporary disability benefits, and the type you qualify for will depend on the extent of your injuries.
- Temporary Partial Disability – you will be eligible for these benefits if you are partially, but not fully, restricted from working due to your injuries. For example, if you are restricted from working more than 5 hours in a day, you may be able to collect T.P.D benefits.
- Temporary Total Disability – If you are completely unable to work, or if the restrictions are so heavy that the employer will not allow you to return, you will qualify for T.T.D benefits. The amount you will receive is typically 2/3 of your average weekly salary, but cannot exceed a specified number.
Permanent Disability Benefits
Unlike temporary benefits, permanent disability benefits are paid on an ongoing basis for an extended period of time, although you may have the option to accept them all as once as a lump sum. While they are typically not truly permanent, they can make a huge difference in a person’s life after suffering a permanent injury.
- Permanent Partial Disability – If you are still suffering from a permanent disability, and your doctor has declared that you have reached maximum medical improvement, you may then qualify for P.P.D. benefits. Your doctor will assign you a percentage of disability, which dictates how much money you are able to collect.
- Permanent Total Disability – these benefits are essentially the same as permanent partial disability benefits, but you will only qualify if your disability is rated as 100% by the doctor. If you are anything less than 100% disabled, you will only qualify for P.P.D. benefits. Examples of 100% disability include the loss of use in both arms, the loss of both eyes, etc.
What to Do After a Workplace Injury
If you have been injured on the job, follow these steps:
- Report the injury to your supervisor, manager, or boss - This step is essential. To receive workers’ compensation, you must notify your employer within 30 days of sustaining the injury.
- Seek medical attention or call 911 if it is an emergency - Be aware that your employer may require you to see a doctor within their Medical Provider Network (MPN). When you receive treatment, be sure to inform the medical professional that your injury is workplace related.
- Contact an attorney - Fortunately, most people filing workers’ compensation claims have never had to before. Unfortunately, their lack of experience can lead to a denied claim. Without the guidance of a skilled workers’ compensation attorney, your benefits may be denied due to infractions you were unaware of. A lawyer can ensure that the claim you file stands the best chance of being approved.
- Fill out a workers’ compensation claim with your employer - Your employer must provide you with a claim form within one working day after being notified of your injury or illness. Once you have returned the claim, your employer has to submit it to the claims administrator within one working day.
- Wait for your claim to be accepted or denied by your employer’s insurance company - While you are waiting for a decision regarding your claim, your employer is required to authorize up to $10,000 in appropriate medical treatment. With your doctor’s permission, you are allowed to resume work at this time. If you are able to resume work but are not fit to handle your normal workload, your employer must provide you with transitional work.
What Questions Should You Ask a Workman's Comp Attorney?
When you find yourself in need of a workers' comp attorney, it is advised that you choose one that isn't only going to approach your case as "business as usual," but one who will fight for your best interests. Here are 3 crucial questions to ask about your potential counsel before deciding on a workers' compensation attorney:
- Are You Meeting with an actual Attorney at Law? Confirm that they are actually the attorney that will oversee your case. If they are not, then you might be dealing with capper who is looking to turn your injury claim into a quick buck. At the Law Offices of Wax & Wax, our attorneys meet in our prospective clients in person to discuss their legal options.
- Is the Attorney Industry-Recognized? Ask him or her about their experience with workers' compensation claims. Are they experienced specialist in WC law in California? Have they received any reputable industry ratings? Or have they been recognized in any industry lists like the Southern California Super Lawyers list? These certifications and industry recognitions are signs that the attorney is knowledgeable and capable of providing results for their client.
- Will Your Case Be Handled Locally? Ask whether they would plan to file your workers' compensation claim at the Appeals Board nearest to where you live. Not only will this be more convenient for you, but it's also indicative that the firm is ready to recognize and fight for your interests—and not just process your case as quickly and easily as possible.
If you’ve been hurt at work, you have an obligation to yourself and your family to pursue benefits. Contact our Santa Clarita workers’ compensation lawyers today for a free case evaluation.