The knee, ankle, and foot are the most commonly injured body parts due to workplace accidents. These injuries cause great pain and can make it difficult for you to accomplish both your daily tasks at home and your job. While workers’ compensation laws are in place to protect and compensate workers who are injured at the workplace, most people don't know how to navigate the process of filing workers’ comp claims for knee, ankle, and foot injuries. Thus, most workers end up facing financial burdens and other damages that should be compensated.
The Workers’ Compensation Attorney Group in Long Beach, California, is a leading advocate for workers who are injured at the workplace. Don't hesitate to contact us if you want to file a compensation claim.
An Overview of Knee, Ankle, and Foot Injuries
Foot injuries often occur due to twisting, overextension or contact with hard surfaces at your workplace. Depending on the nature of your work, these injuries can be a result of long periods of strenuous activities such as lifting heavy loads. Individuals who have the greatest risk for knee, ankle, and foot injuries are professional athletes, auto machine operators, casual laborers nurses, and construction workers. On-the-job injuries to your foot or knee are eligible for compensation from your employer’s insurance coverage.
What Should I do After a Workplace Injury?
The first priority after a foot, ankle, or knee injury should be seeking medical attention. This will prevent further worsening of the existing condition. It is equally necessary to gather enough evidence to help you strengthen your compensation claim. You can:
Take photographs to show the extent of your injuries
Identify individuals who may have witnessed the accident and obtaining their contact details
Take photos which clearly indicate the cause of injury
Get medical attention immediately and keep the documents which indicate the doctor's recommendations, diagnosis, and bills you had to pay for medical care
You should also file a written document with your company or employer. Avoid giving justifications such as old age for your injuries. Even when you had a prior injury and the workplace incident aggravated those injuries, you are entitled to get some compensation. As soon as you get medical attention, notify your employer and collect their insurance information. After doing all these, it is crucial to contact a workers’ compensation attorney to help you initiate the process of compensation. Your attorney will guide you through the compensation claims process to ensure you get compensated.
What Happens at a Workers’ Compensation Trial?
A workers’ compensation hearing is presided over by a workers’ compensation judge without the involvement of a jury to make decisions. In most cases, the case will not be concluded within one day and can continue for years before you get compensation for your injuries. The amount of time it will take to get a verdict is highly dependent on the severity of the injuries you suffered. However, having a strong medical testimony can quicken the judge’s decision and reduce the amount of time you spend to and from the court.
At the trial, both sides will be present with their witnesses and evidence. The people who could possibly testify in your favor are coworkers who may have witnessed the incident or investigators. Your medical records will be a great piece of evidence to show the extent of your injuries. If your employer is not willing to compensate you, they will provide their evidence to try and dismiss your claims. Your attorney will get an opportunity to review the evidence and contest it.
After all the evidence is presented, the judge will decide if the injuries are work-related. If it is determined that you deserve the compensation, then your employer is required to pay for all costs incurred as well as payment for future expenses caused by the injury.
Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The basic requirements that make you eligible to get compensation from the workers’ compensation include:
You must be an Employee
When it comes to eligibility for the workers’ compensation, not every worker is treated as an employee. If you are a freelancer or on a one time contractor, you will not get the benefits from the workers’ compensation for your injuries. The employer may also disqualify you in an attempt to evade workers’ compensation premiums. In this case, you will have to contest in court for you to get recognized as an employee and get the benefits associated with your injury. The court will determine your entitlement to get treated as an employee with reference to the amount of control you have in what you do at your workplace. It is crucial to be aware that if you are a volunteer, you are not entitled to the workers’ compensation benefits.
The Employer must be Covered by the Workers’ Compensation
Most employers are required to have a workers’ compensation coverage. Their responsibility for the coverage is dependent on the number of employees they have as well as the type of work carried out. Certain employers may decide to opt-in the workers’ compensation scheme even when they are not required to do so. In this case, you will receive the workers’ compensation benefits from them if you sustain work-related injuries. If you are working for a private company, the company is likely to have insurance coverage from the private market.
The Injury Should be Work Related
To get the workers’ compensation benefits, you must have been at work when the injury occurred, or the injury is as a result of work-related issues. However, even if you were at work but not doing anything that benefits your employer, you can be denied compensation.
Even when you meet the eligibility criteria described above, you may not qualify to receive the benefits if you are a domestic worker. The state does not require a workers’ compensation coverage to be put in place for people working at homes such as the housekeepers’ and child caregivers. Leased or loaned employees are also exempted from receiving these benefits. When you are temporarily working for a company or working on an assignment with one of their employees, you may not qualify for compensation from them.
If you are a temporary worker, you can be considered an employee for both the original and the lending company. This will create a conflict between two insurance companies for liability. The casual or seasonal workers whose work is not related to the employer’s daily business may not get the compensation benefits. If your employer claims that you are not eligible for compensation after an injury, consider consulting an attorney to advise you on what to do.
Benefits Available after a Workplace Knee, Ankle and Foot Injury
Under the workers’ compensation law of California, you are entitled to the following benefits after you suffer an injury at your workplace.
The medical benefits you are entitled to get will include payment for treatment and all the rehabilitation required to recover from the physical injury suffered. Your employer will also pay for the cost incurred when traveling to seek medical care. In the case where your employer’s insurance company lacks a medical provider network, the employer should send you to a doctor within the first thirty days of the injury.
If the company has a medical plan, you will be required to use the provided services. You may seek medical care elsewhere, especially when all the recommendations are subject to review from a different doctor. This will help ensure that they are within reasonable guidelines and to prevent exaggerations. Anytime you have a work-related accident injury; you are eligible to get medical benefits both after the accident and any future needs concerning the injury. Even when your employer delays in providing compensation, they will owe you up to $10,000 if the court determines that your injuries were work-related.
The injury you suffer from workplace accidents can result to temporarily or permanent disability depending on the severity of the accident. If your knee or foot injury causes hospitalization and you miss work for more than three days, you are entitled to receive benefits for temporary disability. You will get paid two-thirds of your average weekly earnings depending on the date of your injury.
You may also end up with a permanent disability where you need to use clutches or limb due to foot injuries. If you end up 100% disabled, you will be entitled to receive temporary disability rate for the rest of your life. On the other hand, if your disability is greater than 70%, you will get a life pension. In the case where you are offered a job with comparable pay to your previous one, you will not get a lifetime payment for disability.
Return to Work Fund
When you are eligible to get a job replacement benefits, then you will get money to provide assistance to find another job. This happens if you are not capable of returning to your previous position. The $6,000 you are entitled is not paid by the workers’ compensation scheme, but rather, the state. As long as the disability you suffer prevents you from returning to work, you will get the return to work fund.
If your work-related injury results to other problems, you are entitled to benefits for compensable consequences. A consequent injury is an injury that leads to other secondary injuries after the primary one. For instance, you may experience working difficulties as a result of your knee, ankle, or foot injury. In this case, you are entitled to compensable consequence benefits.
If your loved one succumbs to death from a work-related foot, ankle, or knee injury, the beneficiaries of the victim including the spouse, dependents or will executors are entitled to receive compensation from the employer of the deceased. Regardless of whether the death occurred at the workplace or not, if the injury resulting in death was suffered at the workplace, you are entitled to get compensation. This will be paid for emotional suffering and burial expenses.
With the help of a competent attorney, you can pursue other elements of the workers’ compensation benefits. The benefits would include penalties recoverable from the liable individual for discriminating against you as a result of the injury and for filing a claim against them. You can also get benefits from the fact that your employer acted in negligence and willingly, putting your life and that of other employees in danger. In the situation where the employer lacks insurance coverage, and they delay to pay for your damages, they are liable for 10% penalties which you will receive every 14 days.
Settlement Value for an Ankle, Foot and Knee Injury Claim
There are a variety of ankle, foot, and knee injuries you can suffer during your daily activity at work or after an accident. Most injuries may be mere sprains or fractures, but some more severe injuries can make it difficult for you to carry on your daily life normally. If you are seeking compensation for a work-related ankle, foot, and knee injury, the exact amount you will get will be dependent on the individual facts of your case.
The court will need to value your injury to determine what amount you can be awarded for the extent of your injury. The court will also consider what your employer is willing to pay. You may also decide to agree on an amount outside the court and do the compensation without engaging the court. If the case gets to court, it means you were not able to agree upon it with the person liable for your accident. The main factors that affect the amount you will be awarded as compensation for the workplace injury are:
The extent of the injury
Although there are injuries that could cause more pain than they seem, the extent of the injury as assessed by the medical practitioners will significantly determine the amount of compensation you get. The injury could either be on the soft or hard tissues. Soft tissue injuries include the spraining of the ankle, foot or knee or minor straying from over stimulation. These injuries are treated less seriously since the damage is not permanent and the amount of money you will use to pay for treatment is not much. Most of these settlements are done locally, and it is easy to make an agreement with your employer.
The hard injuries are treated with more seriousness and are often assigned more benefits. If your medical reports indicate that you suffered a hard tissue injury, which could cost you days out of work or permanent disability, your injury compensation could increase.
How the injuries affect each individual is a determinant during the calculation of damages. If you were an active person, the injury might have more effect on your life compared to less active individuals. Also, if you had a prior injury which made you more susceptible to the current injury, your benefits could go down.
Duration of injury effect
If your attorney can show that the injuries you suffered left a permanent or long-lasting effect on your body, you will get a significant amount of compensation. Most permanent residual injuries are related to the medical procedures that take long before you heal. In fact, certain injuries may cause permanent disability that would make you dependable on other people. You should indicate that the injury you suffered is permanent when filing the knee, ankle, or foot injury claim. This will increase your chances of getting the compensation that matches the extent of the damage you suffer.
The likelihood of establishing liability for your injury
The court must find evidence to support the fact that your employer owed you the duty of ensuring you are safe from accidents to get compensation for an injury you suffer at work. If they did breach that duty by not putting safety measures to protect you as you work, they are liable for your injuries. You must have suffered a significant injury on your body to qualify for the compensation. However, even when the potential damages are high, the likelihood of getting the composition could be low. This will be the case if you don’t have sufficient proof to show that the respondent is liable for your Injury.
If you were partially at fault or acted with negligence resulting in your injury, the payment you get will drop significantly. It is important to seek representation from a competent attorney if you want to file a compensation claim for a work-related knee, ankle, or foot injury. The attorney will help establish the other party's liability to your injury.
Can My Ankle, Knee or Foot Compensation Claim be Denied?
If you are injured on a job-related accident or developed a health complication, employer’s insurance companies will look for any possible reason to get your claims dismissed. The reasons that cause a compensation denial include:
Disputes on the Cause of the Accident
Your employer may try to claim that you were not at work when the accident occurred, or you had a medical condition before you started working for them. Therefore, it is crucial to gather enough evidence and possibly take pictures when the accident happens to avoid denial of your claims.
There is always a timeframe within which you are expected to report your injuries and file for compensation. If you miss the deadlines, the liable party may seek to deny your claims. The first thing you are to do after seeking medical care for your injuries is to report the matter to your employer. Then, consult your attorney to understand the deadlines for filing the claim.
Injuries Don’t Meet State Guidelines
Your injuries may be a result of a chronic illness, or they are not significant enough to qualify for compensation. You need to make sure that the main cause of your injury was work-related before you file for a claim.
Filling a Claim when you are Already out of Work
Insurers often deny a claim if you file it after you quit or get fired from a job. This is because they assume that the reason you are filing for the claim is that you want to repulse losing the job. However, you may have a good reason for the delay. If you are eligible for the workers’ compensation benefits, quitting your job or getting fired may not necessarily be a barrier to receiving those benefits. If you qualify under the state's expectations, your attorney is able to contest the denial, so you get your deserving benefits.
You should not give up your rights to the workers’ compensation just because your claim gets initially denied. You need to thoroughly evaluate the letter addressed to you, denying your claim. There must be indications why the claim was denied. If it is just a case of mistake paperwork and the liable party admits it, then you can easily get your compensation. If the reason for denial is much more than that, you will be required to file for an appeal for your workers’ compensation claim denial.
Find Help Filing a Claim for my Injuries Near Me
After having a knee, foot and ankle injury, your focus should be seeking compensation for these work-related injuries. Navigating through the workers' compensation claims process could be more complex than you think. You need to observe the guidelines for filing the claim, prove that your injuries are work-related, know what to do if the claim is denied, and other issues. This may not be an easy task if you don't have an experienced attorney to help you.
The Workers Compensation Attorney Group in Long Beach, California, believes that every worker deserves rightful compensation for their injuries. We have dedicated our time and resources to ensure your rights are protected. Don't let your employer or their insurance provider underestimate the benefits you deserve. Call our Long Beach workers compensation lawyer today at 714-716-5933 so we can help you seek the compensation you deserve for the knee, ankle and foot injuries.