The Workers Compensation Attorney Group is a team of professional lawyers working in Long Beach to serve clients with workers’ compensation related cases. This team of professionals is well trained and versed with the latest workers’ compensation laws applicable in and around Long Beach, California. Our attorneys have gained relevant skills and experience over time from handling clients with different workers’ compensation claims. You can, therefore, you can be sure of the best services working with our team of attorneys in order to get your rightfully deserved hand injury compensation.
What is Considered a Hand Injury?
Our hands are major assets when it comes to performing tasks in any workplace. They are very crucial and when one is injured, their work performance is reduced or paused until the victim’s full recovery. A hand injury in a workplace can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common types of hand injuries in the workplace include the following:
These are deep cuts into the skin. They account for 63% of hand injuries reported by the Safety and Health Council of California.
This involves crushes of limbs or any other part of the body by machines and equipment in a workplace. These make up 13% of injuries common in the workplace.
This is a type of injury where the body structure is usually torn-off by either surgery or trauma. Such injuries make up 8% of the common workplace injuries.
This type of injury involves a bone breakage and is not very common in a workplace environment. According to the Safety and Health Council of California, it is estimated to be about 5% of reported work-related injuries.
Note that hand injuries in the workplace are very common since our hands happen to be doing most of the work. The hands can, however, be prevented from injuries by the provision of the right type of hand protection such as gloves to the employee.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers compensation is a system of laws which are set to outline the benefits that an employee is entitled to if they are injured in a work environment and the procedures of claiming such benefits. These laws differ with every state. The state of California has a strict labor statute that outlines the rules for workers’ compensation. The purpose of this compensation law is to ensure that employees injured in a workplace are provided with proper monetary compensation without having to file a lawsuit against the employer. These laws also provide a certain level of protection to the employer and co-workers by limiting the amount to which the worker can recover from their employers. In some cases, it also limits the injured employee from suing other co-workers for negligence.
If you happen to have injured your hand due to the conditions at your job, you need to file a workers’ compensation coverage claim. However, most of these workers’ compensation claims usually must follow some strict guidelines which can be confusing and hard to understand for the layperson. For that reason, you need to seek the services of a professional compensation attorney to help you navigate through these confusing laws of workers’ compensation.
According to the California labor code section 5400, upon the employer receiving the notice, they should within one working day, provide a claim form to the employee by first class mail or in person. The injured employee should then be taken to the nearest hospital for further medical assistance. The employer is supposed to pay up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) depending on the extent of the injury while the compensation claim is pending. After this, the employee has up to one year to submit the claim form back to the claims administrator. The employer should then notify and organize with their compensation insurance providers on how you will get the right medical assistance.
Steps to Claiming Workers’ Compensation if You Suffer a Hand Injury
Your workers’ compensation is only valid under two conditions;
- That you missed work for more time excluding the day you got injured and;
- Your injury called for more than just first aid.
It is also necessary that your employer has in their possession the necessary workers’ compensation notices and forms in both English and Spanish. These documents are what detail your right to the benefits of the workers’ compensation.
The following are the steps to follow when filing for your workers’ compensation in case you suffer a hand injury:
- Informing Your Employer of Your Injury
If you are injured while at work, you are required to inform your employer in writing and within thirty (30) days of your injury. This is in accordance with the Labor Code section 5400. This section of the code further explains that if your employer does, however, come to learn of your injury through other means, such as word of mouth, it is still considered a written notice.
When your employer gets to learn of your injury, they have up to one (1) working day to give you a claim form. This claim form is what contains in detail the events surrounding your accident. You are expected to sign this document if you agree with the information.
After signing, you should return the form to your employer, who is also expected to fill in their part as specified.
- The Essential Notices
When your employer receives the claim form that you signed, they are supposed to pass it to their insurance provider. The said insurance provider at this point will be expected to issue you with notices that detail your different rights in regards to the California workers’ compensation claim.
What Type of Injuries and Illness are Covered by Workers Compensation Insurance?
- Diseases such as lung cancer; which could be caused by toxic substances that you are exposed to at the workplace.
- Physical and mental injuries due to strain or stress caused by increased work demands.
- Injuries that happen during work-sponsored activities such as; picnics, breaks or lunch hours. Injuries that are caused by facilities in the workplace such as furniture are also included here.
- Pre-existing conditions that the workplace accelerates. An example of such includes a back injury caused by ergonomic hazards which you might not notice immediately until later when the pain becomes intense.
The compensation plan does not cover pain and suffering. In addition, the employee cannot sue the employer if they have received compensation coverage.
Injuries Not Covered
Workers compensation insurance does not always cover all types of injuries in the workplace. Most of the states including California, do not pay benefits to employees who sustained an injury during horseplay at work. If you are injured in your workplace while intoxicated or under the influence, you also are not entitled to these benefits as per the California law.
If you are injured while traveling to or from work, you may not have the advantage of enjoying the workers' compensation benefits. This is unless the employer provides you with a transportation means or rather if travel is a vital requirement of your duty.
In the event that you choose to leave the work premises to do personal stuff and are injured in the process, you might not enjoy the workers’ compensation benefit. If you, however, are injured while leaving an event sponsored by the company, you should get your deserved workers compensation coverage for the injury.
Acts Related to Workplace Injuries
Occupation Safety and Health Act
This act created the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the department of labor to implement health programs. Its main aim is to protect workers in a workplace from hazards and injuries. OSHA safety regulations and standards normally apply more on construction projects. It is, therefore, always wise to know your rights under this act if you work in a construction site. Below are employers’ obligations under OSHA.
- They should inform employees of the health and safety standards that apply in that particular workplace.
- Employers are obliged to provide their employees with a workplace free from any kind of hazard.
- They should make sure all their employees are provided with safety tools and equipment to avoid contact with hazards they might encounter on the job.
- They should provide employees with some free training and education on the safety standards of the workplace.
- It is the employer’s duty to inform the employee of the OSHA health and safety standards that apply in their particular workplace.
Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)
This specific act was passed to protect railroad workers in case of injuries in their line of duty. An employee working at a railroad faces an environment full of various dangers and potential hazards. All injuries that occur to a railroad worker while on their duty are supposed to be protected by FELA. All claims under this act can be addressed directly to the railway company or the employer.
Besides providing a basis for a legal claim by the injured employer, FELA also provides railroad companies and employers with a uniform liability standard for the employee's safety and working conditions. If you are a railroad worker and have been injured or you know someone who has been in the course of their duty, it is important to understand your legal rights as per FELA in order to receive the right amount of compensation coverage.
Types of Benefits an Employee Gets According to California Workers’ Compensation Law
- Medical care.
According to California Workers’ compensation law, an employee is entitled to free hospital services, medicine, doctor visits, lab tests or even medical equipment. (section 4600)
- Temporary disability payments.
This usually involves payment of wages which were lost during the recovery period (usually calculated as 2/3 of your pre-tax wage which should not be more than one hundred and four (104) weeks). This is covered in section 4650.
- Death benefits.
In case you die due to work-related injury or illness, your dependent relatives are paid your death benefits. (section 4700)
- Retraining benefits.
If you are unable to get back to your previous type of employment due to the injury caused by the conditions at the workplace, you are entitled to retraining benefits as per California workers' law. (section 4658.7)
- Permanent disability payments.
One gets to enjoy these benefits if they do not recover completely from their work-related injury. This happens when the injury causes a permanent and measurable mark, mental or physical impairment to the employee. The duration or the amount of time you get to enjoy this type of workers compensation benefits depends on the extent of the impairment or disability. (section 4658)
What the Plaintiff Must Prove to in Order to Win the Case
If your compensation claim is denied, you are allowed by the California law to present your case to the judge. Here, you must file an application for adjudication of the claim while having all the required documents. You should also give notice to other parties involved and file a declaration of readiness to proceed. It is only by doing this, will your case be scheduled for mandatory settlement in the presence of a judge. The following are some concrete grounds that one needs to prove to receive compensation from an employer who has violated workers’ compensation laws.
- Your employer should be participating in the state’s compensation program.
- The employee acted in good faith by seeking workers’ compensation benefits through filing workers compensation claim form which led to the employers’ retaliation.
- That you are an employee who is entitled to receive these workers' compensation benefits.
- Your attorney needs to prove that there was an adverse employment outcome to the terms and conditions of your employment such as work termination or wage reduction.
Common Employer Legal Defenses against Workers’ Compensation Claim
Depending on your specific type of injury circumstances, your workers’ compensation claim may either be accepted or blocked. For instance, if a person slips on a freshly mopped floor and injures their hand, they can only get workers compensation coverage if they are an employee of the company. This is regardless of whether there was a mark indicating the wet floor or not. The following are common workers' compensation defenses to avoid compensation.
- The employee cannot determine the cause of the injury
The employee is required to undergo some medical examination to determine the real cause of the injury. In the event that you have filed a hand injury case due to the conditions at your workplace, you must provide evidence to verify the conditions of the job caused your hand injury. If not, the employer cannot be convicted.
- Willful negligence
This is where the employee ignores or rather neglects the employer’s safety rules and regulations set for the performance of employment duties. If the defendant proves that it is the workers' negligence or carelessness that caused their hand injury then the defendant becomes innocent. In most cases, the battle between the employee and the employer is usually to prove which party was actually negligent.
- Failure to give the employer notice
The defendant can argue that you, the employee did not notify them of your hand injury issue on time. Employees are supposed to notify the employer of the work-related injury within thirty (30) to ninety (90) days after the incident. The notification can be given to the supervisor through writing or word of mouth. The employer can then make the necessary arrangement for the workers’ compensation coverage.
- Self-inflicted injuries
Unless the claimant can prove the hand injury was caused by the working environment at the job, the defendant has the right to argue that the injury was self-inflicted. If you sustained the injury intentionally in order to file the false claim, you should not get any compensation coverage. For example, if you are injured in the workplace due to a fight that you started, the workers’ compensation cannot be provided.
- No causal link to employment
For you to file a workers’ compensation claim, you must be an employee of the said company or employer you want to compensate you. There must be a causal link to the employment for you to enjoy the compensation benefits. For example, if your finger is scratched and you fail to take care of the wound until it develops a secondary infection, you will not be eligible for compensation coverage.
- Failure to attend a doctor’s appointment
Part of the claim you want should involve independent medical examination to determine the amounts of compensation benefits required and to verify the claim too. Your claim will be denied or reduced if you fail to show up to a doctor’s appointment.
Penalties for Not Providing California Workers Compensation Benefits to Employees
According to California Labor Code Section 3700, all employers within this state are required to provide workers compensation benefits to their prospective employees regardless of whether the employee is one or more. California State takes this law very seriously and employers who fail to obey this law may face the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) leading to shut down of the business and heavy penalties and fines. Below are some of the penalties an employer who fails to obey this law can face.
- Section 3700.5 of the labor code in California has clearly defined failure to provide workers’ compensation insurance as a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment. The imprisonment usually lasts for one (1) year in the county jail with a fine of not less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
- An employee can sue the employer if they did not receive compensation coverage for the filed workers compensation claim.
- Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) can issue a stop order after discovering the issue. This stop order usually prohibits the employer from using the employee’s labor until their full recovery. Failure to observe this order leads to a misdemeanor offense which would mean a minimum of sixty (60) days punishment in the county jail or a fine of not less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for the employer.
- For illegally uninsured employers, the state can issue penalties of up to one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).
- Criminal prosecution for violation of criminal statutes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Workers Compensation
- What Should I Do When I Get Injured at Work?
The claim will be denied if you do not send the report about your injury to your employer on time. The time limits on which you are supposed to submit the injury report vary in different states. In California State, the report should be sent to the employer before ninety (90) days after the actual incident.
- Will I Still Receive My Workers’ Compensation Benefits When the Accident Was Not My Fault?
The most important part of the workers’ compensation coverage is to protect workers in the workplace. This is in case of accidents which affect them, regardless of who caused the actual accident. There are, however, some instances where the employee will not enjoy any workers compensation benefits. For instance, if an injury is self-inflicted or when an employee is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
- Can I See My Preferred Doctor?
This usually depends on the workers' compensation policy and the state laws of your city. In this case, you should consult with your doctor to know if they require you to see a specific doctor or if you get choose your own. If you decide to seek medical services from a different doctor other than the one listed, the employer’s compensation insurance company might still need a medical examination by one of its doctors.
- Will I Be Able to Resume My Job?
After the injury, if you have made full recovery and back to your normal health conditions, you should be able to get your job back if the position is still vacant. The employer has no right to fire you for taking the time to heal. If, however, the position is taken, your employer should not fire the other person so as to regain your position. If there is an available opening that suits you in that workspace, you might as well take it.
- Do I Need A Lawyer to Help in The Process of Claiming Workers’ Compensation?
The truth of the matter is that you do need a workers’ compensation attorney to help you navigate the complex California workers compensation laws. Some of these laws, you might not be able to comprehend by yourself since they are constantly changing.
Find a Long Beach Workers Compensation Attorney Group Specializing in Hand Injury Near Me
We all work hard at our jobs and when we experience an injury due to work, we all want the right kind of compensation. At Long Beach Workers Compensation Attorney Group, you can find professional and experienced attorneys who have handled hand injury cases for many years to receive just compensation for their clients. Call us today at 480-848-8471 to speak to our lawyers about your workers' compensation case.