The Worker's Compensation Attorney Group in Long Beach, CA is a highly reputable law firm that is known for representing employees who have sustained work-related injuries. Being injured at work is something that can change your life completely. The physical pain, emotional pain, lack of income and hospital bills can be overwhelming. The lawyers at our firm have in-depth knowledge of California workers’ compensation law. They will ensure that you get the deserved financial compensation you need at this low point in your life. In regard to California law, our attorneys are always fully up-to-date on the different work-related injuries that qualify for compensation. Not only are we your best option at getting your rightful compensation, but we will help you avoid wasting time pursuing a case in which you might not get compensated.
Workers’ Compensation Claim
The state of California, under the Worker's Compensation Act, has set laws to protect employees who are injured at work and are facing financial difficulties. The Act provides a program for employers to compensate employees who are injured while in the line of duty. Even if the employer was not at fault, the employee could still file a claim so that the employer can be pushed to create a more conducive working environment.
The law requires all employers to hold workers’ compensation insurance to protect workers or employees in the event of mishaps. The affected employees can receive compensation in various ways. These include; coverage of medical bills, earning a salary in the duration you are out of work injured and your training for another position if you cannot get back to the previous one due to the injuries you sustained.
When filing the claim, you must ensure that the disease or injury is as a result of your current work. Those who file weak claims never get compensated. The denied claims are the principal reason why most employees do not pursue these claims after getting injured because they find it as a waste of time and resources.
What Types of Injuries Are Compensable Under the California Workers’ Compensation?
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that an injury or illness will be compensable if it is caused or contributed by the work environment. This specific condition might have the employee wondering what happens if the damage occurs outside the workplace, but you were still on duty? The following are types of injuries that are covered under California law.
Psychiatric Work Injuries
The majority of the employees in Long Beach, California are not aware that there are laws that exist to protect workers who suffer mental injuries in their work. They only know the compensation available for those who sustain physical injuries or fall ill on the job — proving that you suffered a mental illness while on the job is not a piece of cake. Much paperwork is involved, and you must meet the timeline when filing the case. Employers also give those seeking compensation for mental illness many headaches because they request many documents in addition to medical reports and records. However, it is good to file a claim still.
Most mental illnesses develop without the employee even knowing because they are slow. Some of the elements that contribute to psychiatric work injuries include; harassment by colleagues or the management, constant abuse on the job and being overworked. These elements cause panic and stress. If they persist, the morale of the employee starts to diminish, and at most times they prefer spending time away from the workplace. The stressful work environment begins to cause emotional harm to the employee. If an employee is experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety which is work-related, filing a claim is the best thing to do. The challenge comes when proving that you have a mental breakdown and the cause is the work environment.
Keep in mind that depression, stress, and anxiety sometimes might be personal and not work-related. Counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists find it challenging to determine the cause of the mental illness which means the employee and the attorney have to do more to prove their case. Insurance companies and employers also need more information before agreeing to give the compensation benefits.
The California Labor Code 3208.3 requires that the employee proves that 51% of the psychiatric injury was due to the work environment to be compensated for the damage. Below are some of the qualifications an employee must meet to qualify for the compensation benefits.
- The employee must have worked for the current employer or in the present workplace for not less than six months.
- The disease which the employee has been diagnosed with must appear on the list of the most current Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
- The disability or the disease must be caused by 'Good Faith' actions which only the employer can prove.
- For injuries caused by an act of violence, the employee must prove or provide facts that the damage was due to actual events of employment.
A psychiatric injury claim will stand if you show you are doing something to mend your current mental situation. Some of the things you can use to prove that you are mitigating the condition include a report showing you have been regularly visiting a therapist and the type of treatment you are receiving. The insurance company and your employer will need medical evidence. They will also need to know that you are taking the prescribed medication and following the therapist’s instructions. Get records of your visits to the pharmacy because they will also need them. That way, your psychiatric injury will be compensable.
Under the current law in California, claims must be filed according to the extent of the injuries. These claims include; Mental-Physical claims and Mental-Mental claims. The mental-physical applications are those that result due to physical injuries which in turn led to job loss due to the side effects of the damage, pain and low functionality.
On the other hand, mental-mental claims are for injuries that are not a result of physical injuries. These claims are much harder to qualify for compensation benefits. With any of these claims, you can choose to file a worker’s compensation claim.
These are injuries that can be directly traced to a single event that occurred while you were working or injuries that are due to work-related incidences. For example, if an employee falls off the ladder, slips or hits an object when using work equipment, is involved in a car accident while driving on duty or gets a back injury due to heavy lifting. All these injuries can be traced back to a specific event in the workplace and are compensable.
Workplace related exposures can cause illnesses. These illnesses are also covered under the worker's compensation insurance policy. When filing a claim, one must build a strong case to relate the sickness or disease to the work environment exposure. Those employees who work in factories are at a higher risk of being exposed to substances that can be harmful to human health.
If an employee is exposed to coal dust for a long time, they are likely to suffer from black lung disease. Apart from black lung disease, exposure to different toxins in the work environment can cause sickness, e.g., asbestosis which is as a result of exposure to asbestos and hearing loss due to excessive noise from the factory. An employee might also contract HIV/AIDS if they are a health worker and accidentally gets punctured by an infected needle.
Asthma is another sickness that can result from prolonged exposure to harmful substances at work. Employees experiencing allergies as a result of allergens originating from the work environment can file for a compensation claim and still win. However, to be compensated, you must prove that the occupational illness is an industrial injury. You need to show the medical link between the diseases and the work condition. An employer or insurance company is disadvantaged in these claims because there are low chances of exposure outside the workplace. Therefore, they cannot argue that industrial injuries are not related to work.
Despite there being a low probability of exposure away from the workplace, the employee seeking compensation must use medical proof to show that the sickness was caused by exposure to the work environment. If the medical evidence shows that the illness is just ordinary, you cannot be compensated.
Injuries Presumed Work Related by Law
The state of California recognizes that some occupations like law enforcement officers and firefighters are exposed to many risks whenever they are working. The dangers of the job are why the state provides them with workers' compensation benefits. So whenever these officers develop cancer, heart-related problems, and hernias, they are protected by the law. There is no explanation required for these jobs because it is presumed that the injuries occurred while safeguarding the public hence automatic compensation.
Pre-existing Work Injuries
Even if an employee has a prior work injury, they can still be compensated as long as they can prove the current working conditions aggravated the condition. For instance, if you already had an old back injury and then happens to lift a heavy load at work and you get injured due to the preexisting condition, you can still qualify for compensation. It will be easy to show that the heavy object you lifted worsened your preexisting conditions.
If the injury is not a major one, but it increased the probability or chances of you becoming disabled or changing the current course of medication, it will still be considered an aggravation, and you will be compensated. If the symptoms of the injury keep flaring up, it will not be deemed as a new injury. It will therefore not be considered as compensable.
Do not forget that the employer will only be paying for the nature of injury or portion that resulted from the most recent accident. Compensation benefits are therefore reduced significantly. However, there will be an exemption if your physician or doctor can prove that the preexisting condition has caused permanent disability. This case applies to injured employees whose prior work injuries are aggravated to the extent they are not treatable. You will qualify for permanent disability compensation benefits only if your doctor determines the damage is permanent. However, if you get permanent disability because of slipping at work and hurting your back, the insurance company will pay a portion of the permanent disability if you have a prior injury.
Cumulative Trauma Injuries or Repetitive Strain and Stress Injuries
Some jobs require repetitive motions. The motions, when allowed to continue for a long time, can cause strain and stress injuries. The majority of employees never know they have these injuries until they see a doctor. The injuries are prevalent in workplaces where employees repeat certain motions like keyboard typing. Others who can develop these problems are graphic designers and factory workers because they do the same thing day in day out for years and this might lead to pain. The majority of employees with these injuries leave work exhausted and use painkillers to suppress the pain.
In California continued trauma injuries are covered. However, the challenge is that you must provide much evidence to show that the condition is due to work-related issues. Insurance companies and employers are afraid of these claims because the treatment takes longer. Surgery is involved in most cases because the injuries develop over time and the condition can be challenging to treat. The employer will do anything to avoid paying compensation for the period of treatment hence the need to have the worker's compensation attorney group in Long Beach on your side. These experienced attorneys will provide strong evidence to prove that your claim is a cumulative trauma injury even if the insurer and your employer tries to deny the application.
What Are Some of the Exceptions to Workers’ Compensation?
Sometimes, eligible employees might miss out on workers’ compensation benefits if the sickness or injury is said to be outside the scope of employment. Below are some of these exceptions.
For specific injuries in California, even if you were at fault, your claim could be compensable. However, if the employee was intoxicated or impaired due to substance abuse, it will be ruled that the injury is from substance abuse and not work-related. The California Labor Code 3600 (d) is clear that no death or work-related injury will be compensable if the cause is intoxication.
In case an employee was drunk and is pushed by a colleague and hurts themselves, the person can be compensated despite the intoxication. When a chemical blood test for BAC is performed late, it cannot be admitted as evidence that the person was intoxicated which means he or she will be compensated.
If an employee is injured when fighting with a colleague or during workplace horseplay, the claim filed will not be compensated. Some cases are however compensable if the employer allowed the horseplay to go on. Still, if the employees argue about poor performance in the workplace and get into a fight, the injury will fall under the scope of employment and will be compensated. However, if they were arguing about something not related to the job when they got into the fight, the injury will not be compensable.
Company Social Events
When the employees of a company are on tour, picnic, team-building event or participating in company games and sports, they are not eligible for workers’ compensation. The reason being the social event is not work-related. However, it will be work-related and compensable if the game was during working hours, in the employer’s premises and for the benefit of the employer.
Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance
The California state Workers’ Compensation Act states that every employer must purchase a workers’ compensation insurance policy from an accredited insurer. If the employer cannot provide the coverage and an employee gets injured, the said employee might not get compensated. However, the law allows you to file a civil suit against the employer to get paid.
Traveling to And from Work
Many employees commute when going to work and when returning home. In the event of an injury, this will not be considered as a course of work hence no compensation. For example, if you are traveling from home to work using public transport and you are involved in an accident or hit by a car, you do not qualify for the benefits.
However, if you were running an errand for the company, say as a salesperson, and you are involved in an accident, you are eligible for compensation. If you are driving your employer’s car from home going to run an errand for the company that qualifies as a compensable injury. Employees who commute from one work site to another also qualify for compensation because the damage is in the course of work.
What Happens When an Employee is Injured Working Overtime or Running Errands Away From Work?
If you are injured, once you have checked out of work for the day, but you still are in the organization's premises like the parking lot, you will always get the benefits. Even if you are injured away from work, but you were doing something that will benefit your employer, you qualify for a worker’s compensation benefit. These cases include; working from home or business travel.
When you suffer an injury while taking a break from work, you can still be compensated. Let say you were going for a tea break in your company’s cafeteria and then you slip and hurt yourself. The injury you acquired is compensable because you are on-site and saving time by not leaving the premise. Employers benefit a lot from employees who save time.
If you went outside the premises of the company to have lunch with a client and you are hit by a car, the employer would compensate because you were pursuing his or her interests. If you were, however, walking to a cafe to have a meal and you get injured, there will be no benefits because you were not pursuing the interests of your employer.
Discrimination for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Many employers discourage employees from filing workers' compensation claims. The law makes it clear that no worker or employee should be discriminated when they get injured in the scope of employment. At times when employees get hurt, they might be unfairly discharged or denied certain working rights because of their condition. It is called retaliation, and it is discouraged by the California law.
Employees who submit a workers' compensation claim to the employer or show intent to apply for a complaint might be fired or threatened to be fired. Employers view you as a threat which is why they retaliate. In case you realize your employer is retaliating because you have all the evidence required to qualify for benefits, you can file a civil suit on top of workers' compensation.
When an employee comes back from an injury, and they are not permanently impaired due to the injury, they should receive their old responsibilities. Failure to do so will appear to the court as firing which is prohibited.
Once you have fully recovered, the employer is expected to give you your old position back without any discrimination. However, in the event the injury caused permanent disability, you should not be reinstated because you cannot perform your duties like you used to.
Some employers discriminate employees by failing to reinstate them just because they are afraid of impaired performance. They should justify the reason for not restoring you. Some of these reasons include the nature of the job and the extent of the injury. The employee should be allowed to prove they are capable of their role before being discharged.
Find a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Near Me
The Workers Compensation Attorney Group has helped many employees over the years to get their rightful financial benefits after an injury. If you are experiencing any of the compensable injuries mentioned above, call our Long Beach workers compensation attorney today at 714-716-5933, and one of our experienced Long Beach workers' compensation attorneys will provide a free consultation.