HOW MUCH IS YOUR WORKPLACE ACCIDENT WORTH?
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Workers in nearly all industries are at risk of being involved in an accident. Indeed, even office workers can develop repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel, and even teachers could be victims of classroom violence and assault; there is no industry in which employees are entirely immune from the risk of injury.
If you’ve been injured on the job, you may have questions about what comes next, and whether or not you can be compensated for your injuries. Likely, you’ve been told by your employer that your injuries are eligible for workers’ compensation insurance and that all you need to do to recover the compensation award that you deserve is to initiate your workers’ compensation claim. While it is true that your injuries are likely covered under workers’ compensation, workers’ compensation claims can be complex. As a result, workers’ legitimate claims are often denied, or workers are offered only a fraction of the benefits that they truly deserve.
Because of the complex nature of workers’ compensation claims–and, in some cases, the unscrupulous nature of an employer or an insurance adjuster–having a developed understanding of your rights in regards to the workers’ compensation system is important. At the Arash Law, our workplace accident attorneys in California can offer you the support, guidance, and representation that you need when you’ve been injured in the workplace. We have helped injured employees in areas like Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and beyond.
Workers’ compensation is an important coverage type and one that most employers are required to carry in California. However, it often does not pay workers the benefits that they need, and sometimes, the necessity of a personal injury claim is apparent. Our team of qualified accident lawyers can help you to understand both methods of compensation, and are ready to start working on your case immediately. Call us 24/7 at (888) 488-1391.
Our Workplace Injury Law Firm in California Is Here to Serve You
Workers’ compensation insurance is designed to pay for the medical expenses and a portion of the lost wages of any employees who are injured while performing work-related duties in California. However, an employee who is injured at work often suffers far more than just medical expenses, but also disability, future healthcare expenses, and pain and suffering damages too – these are damages for which workers’ compensation does not offer recompense. As such, an injured employee may consider another form of compensation: filing a third-party liability claim.
However, these claims types–both workers’ compensation and third-party liability claims–are legally intensive and can be complicated to navigate without legal training. At Arash Law, our work-related accident lawyers in California are willing and able to advocate for you and improve your chances of recovering your full compensation award. We maintain an elite team of trial attorneys who have a track record of winning cases in and out of the courtroom, who have decades of combined legal experience, and who have won various awards and recognition. We know how to adequately represent you and help you recover the financial compensation that you need after being injured at work.
After an accident at work, it’s crucial that you act quickly. Not only do you need to start the claims process as soon as possible, but you should also call a lawyer, too. We are ready to get started working for you today.
Have You Been Injured While Working in California
If you have been injured while working in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California, you probably have suffered physical pain and disability (short- or long-term), medical expenses, lost wages, and various other damages, both economic and noneconomic. While injured workers in California who are hurt at work certainly maintain the right to seek benefits for their harm, a workers’ compensation claim will never offer an injured worker 100 percent of their damages amount. Instead, while you can recoup the full value of your medical expenses, you will only be eligible for a portion of your lost wages, and no damages for pain and suffering are offered. If you have been injured at work, don’t hesitate to contact us! We represent workers who have been harmed in various industries, including, but not limited to the:
- Construction industry
- Farm and agricultural industry
- Oilfield industry;
- Manufacturing industry
- Mining industry; and more
Work Accident Statistics in California
There are hundreds of thousands of employees injured in the state of California while at work every year. Indeed, according to data published by the California Department of Industry Relations, a single year in our state witnessed 466,000 non-fatal workplace injuries, 78 percent of which occurred in the private industry. The following year in California, in addition to the tens of thousands of workplace non-fatal injuries, there were also 376 fatal occupational injuries reported in the state. While this is indicative of a downward trend from previous years, even one worker being killed on the job is unacceptable, and tragic for that worker and their family.
Certain Industries Are More Dangerous
While no worker is entirely impermeable to the risk of injury, workers in specific industries are at a much higher risk of involvement in a workplace accident and severe subsequent injury. To be sure, according to the same data source cited above, fatality rates were highest in the following industry types (industries are listed in order of highest fatality rate to lowest fatality rate):
- Transportation and utilities
- Professional and business service
- Public administration
- Other services
- Wholesale and retail trade
- Leisure and hospitality
- Education and health services.
Typically, industries where large equipment and machinery is used, such as the construction or oil and natural gas industries, are more dangerous than are others.
The Top 10 Causes of Workplace Injuries
All workers have the right to benefit from a safe working environment; when a safe working environment is not provided, accidents are more common. Typically, accidents are the result of a breach of safety regulations, the negligence of an employer or other workers, or sometimes, property or equipment defects. When a failure to prioritize safety on the job or act with the required duty of care occurs, the following workplace accidents can happen:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Falls from heights
- Falling objects
- Transportation accidents
- Equipment and machinery accidents, including getting caught in or in-between equipment
- Building Collapses
- Trench collapses; and more.
These accident types, regardless of the industry in which they happen, can be extremely serious, leaving workers with severe and long-term injuries.
Serious Accidents Lead to Serious Injuries but Our Work Injury Lawyers Can Help
When a serious workplace accident occurs, a worker may be left with debilitating, or even fatal, injuries. Our work injury lawyers in California have helped workers who have suffered multiple injury types understand their right to benefits and seek compensation for their harm.
Some of the most common serious workplace injuries we see include:
- Head and traumatic brain injuries
- Burns injuries
- Electrocution injuries
- inal cord injuries
- Loss of limb/amputation injuries
- Crush injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Bone fracture injuries
- Internal injuries.
Workers who acquire occupational diseases as a result of their employment are also entitled to compensation. When you are the victim of a workplace accident and a severe injury, or when you suffer from an occupational disease, you don’t just need an attorney on your side – you need the best work injury lawyers you can find. Our trial attorneys meet that standard – call us at (888) 488-1391 today to get started. Consultations are always free of cost and obligation!
Understanding Workers’ Compensation in California
As stated, most workers who are injured on the job in California are covered under workers’ compensation insurance. While this system is fantastic in that it offers workers compensation for a portion of their losses, it falls short in that workers who file workers’ compensation claims are barred from recovering their full compensation award, including damages for pain and suffering. Indeed, workers’ compensation is a type of no-fault system where workers who are injured at work can seek compensation without having to prove the fault of their employer, and without having to worry about being barred from recovery due to their own fault. However, in exchange for no-fault benefits, employers are given immunity from liability–which means that you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer for compensation–and the types of benefits recoverable are limited.
Who’s Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?
Under California law, all employers who have one or more employees must purchase workers’ compensation coverage. The insurance coverage must be provided through a licensed insurance company or the State Insurance Fund.
What Benefits Are Available to Workplace Accident Victims?
If you are injured while working, you can file a workers’ compensation claim for certain benefit types. Benefits provided under workers’ compensation in California include:
- Medical benefits. The one type of expense that workers’ compensation will pay in full is that of your medical expenses – you are entitled to coverage for all of your necessary and reasonable medical expenses following a workplace accident, including hospital stays, tests, surgeries, imaging services, equipment, health-related travel costs, prescription drugs, and doctors’ visits.
- Death benefits. Fortunately, the majority of workplace accidents in California are not fatal. When an accident does lead to a worker’s death, though, a surviving spouse or child, or other beneficiaries, may seek death benefits via workers’ compensation insurance.
- Temporary or permanent disability benefits. If you suffer an injury that is disabling, you may be entitled to wage replacement benefits in the form of temporary or permanent disability benefits. These benefits are only offered if you miss work for a certain period of time, and are offered at a percentage of your wage before your injury.
- Supplemental job displacement benefits. If you suffer a permanent disability and you don’t return to work for your same employer, you may be entitled to supplemental job displacement benefits in the form of a voucher to offset the costs of paying for skill enhancement or new job training.
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How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
Time is of the essence after suffering an on-the-job injury in California. In fact, you must provide your employer with notice of your workplace accident and injury, in writing, within 30 days of its occurrence. If you fail to provide notice within 30 days, you could lose your right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. While your employer should then initiate the workers’ compensation claim process on your behalf, if they fail to do so, you will have one year from the date of your injury to file your workers’ compensation claim.
How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
As stated above, your employer will typically file your workers’ compensation claim for you after receiving notice of your injury. However, for various reasons, your employer may fail to do this. It is your responsibility to ensure that your claim is filed.
The basic process of filing a workers’ compensation claim is explained below:
- Notify your employer of the injury – Again, be sure to notify your employer of the accident and injury as soon as possible, but always within 30 days.
- Ensure all claim documents are filed – Talk with your employer to determine whether or not the required documents related to your workers’ compensation claim have been filed, and if not, obtain and file these documents yourself. You will undoubtedly need to submit the DWC-1 claim form; you may also require an Application for Adjudication of Claim form, Declaration Pursuant to Labor Code form, and document cover sheet and separator sheet forms. All forms can be obtained online.
- Obtain benefits. After the proper forms have been filed, an investigation has been conducted, and you have reached MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement), you can receive benefits.
What Happens if My Claim Is Denied?
Unfortunately, not all workers’ compensation claims are approved. Your claim may be denied for the following reasons:
- Bad faith of the insurer or your employer – In rare situations, an employer or insurance company may deny a claim simply because they want to save money, perhaps fabricating a reason why your claim for benefits “isn’t valid.” Often, this most affects workers whom insurers believe are unlikely to seek legal counsel, such as undocumented employees.
- Your injury didn’t happen at work – An insurer may attempt to deny a workers’ compensation claim on the pretext that the accident and injury did not occur at the employee’s place of work or while the employee was acting in the course of employment. This is more common when there is a lack of eyewitnesses or other physical evidence, such as obvious damage from a building collapse or fire.
- You were intoxicated or on drugs – While a worker cannot be denied workers’ compensation benefits if their own fault resulted in a workplace accident, being intoxicated on the job or having drugs in one’s system can certainly complicate the process of recovering benefits, and could even result in a claim denial.
- Your injuries aren’t from the workplace accident – Sometimes, a workers’ compensation insurer will attempt to deny a claim based on the allegation that the injuries suffered by a worker are unrelated to the workplace accident, or were pre-existing.
- You failed to act quickly enough – Finally, your claim may be denied if you failed to provide your employer of notice of your injury within the required time frame, or failed to initiate the workers’ compensation claim process yourself within the required amount of time.
While there are numerous reasons why a claim for benefits could be denied, you maintain the right to appeal a denied workers’ compensation claim. If you are denied the benefits to which you are entitled under the law, you need to call a work accident lawyer in California immediately. There is only so much time to file an appeal – do not breach the time limit and forfeit your right to compensation.
What Happens if My Employer Doesn’t Carry Workers’ Compensation?
Your employer is required under the law to provide workers’ compensation insurance. If they fail to do so, they may face criminal consequences as such. What’s more, if your employer fails to provide workers’ compensation insurance, they can be held personally liable for your injuries, as you will maintain the right to file a personal injury claim against your employer for damages. (As a reminder, if your employer does carry workers’ compensation insurance, you are barred from filing a lawsuit against them for damages.)
The First 5 Steps to Take After a California Workplace Injury
When you are harmed at work, it is crucial that you take certain steps as soon as possible, both to ensure that you get the medical treatment you need, and to ensure that your right to workers’ compensation benefits–and perhaps compensation via a third-party liability claim–are preserved. Steps to take after a workplace accident include:
- Seek emergency medical care – You do not have to get emergency care approved by your employer prior to receiving it.
- Notify your employer – It cannot be emphasized enough: you must notify your employer of your injury within the required 30-day time limit, if not sooner.
- Seek medical care – If you need medical treatment, consult with your employer and be sure to seek care from an approved provider.
- Follow up on your claim – Check to see if your employer has filed a workers’ compensation claim on your behalf; if not, start the process yourself.
- Hire a workers’ compensation attorney – If your injuries are severe, your employer has denied your claim, or you encounter another hurdle in the workers’ compensation claim process, reach out to a skilled workers’ compensation attorney immediately.
What Are the Advantages of Hiring a Workplace Injury Lawyer in California?
A workplace injury lawyer can guide you through the various steps of the workers’ compensation claims process, as well as represent your best interests and protect you from any unfair practices, including a claim denial based on bad faith or specious evidence. Our job accident attorneys will help you by:
- Working with you to choose a physician. Who you select for treatment could affect the outcome of your workers’ compensation case, as the opinion of your treating physician will be used to determine the extent of your injuries and the value of your claim.
- Managing various elements of the claims process. Our lawyers will handle all elements related to your claim, mitigating errors that you may make on your own, like forgetting to notify your employer or missing the deadline for filing a claim.
- Negotiating your settlement. You have the right to reject a workers’ compensation settlement if you are offered one that you don’t believe compensates you to the extent that you deserve. When this is the case, our workplace injury lawyers will gladly represent you in negotiating your settlement offer.
- Litigating your case. While most workers’ compensation (and third-party liability claims) are settled out of court, if a settlement cannot be reached, our trial lawyers have the experience in the courtroom that you can depend on.
When Do I Need to Hire a Workplace Accident Lawyer in California?
While the workers’ compensation claims process can be complicated, many workers do not require the counsel of an attorney from the get-go – if your workers’ compensation claim is straightforward, your employer is cooperative and supportive of your right to seek benefits, and your injuries are minor, you may be able to navigate the process without legal support.
However, if you have suffered serious injuries or you encounter any obstacle to your right to recover compensation, you should hire an attorney. We recommend hiring a lawyer as soon as possible when you’ve been injured at work.
Can I File a Lawsuit After Being Involved in a Workplace Accident?
As explained above, if you are covered under workers’ compensation insurance, you are barred from filing a lawsuit against your employer. However, you may be able to file another type of claim – a personal injury claim called a third-party liability suit.
- Third-Party Liability Claims
A third-party liability suit is a claim that is made against a third party whose negligence caused your accident and injuries. In a workplace-injury claim, this might include the property owner where the injury occurred (if someone other than your employer), the manufacturer of a product or piece of equipment, or a party responsible for machinery maintenance, amongst others.
- Damages Recoverable in a Third-Party Claim
One of the benefits of filing a third-party liability claim is that when you file this claim type, you maintain the right to seek compensation for the full extent of your injuries, including 100 percent of your medical expenses and lost wages, both present, and future, related to the injury. You will also maintain the right to seek compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
What You Need to Establish in a Third-Party Claim
While there may be a greater amount of compensation available by filing a third-party liability claim, the downside to this claim type is that you will need to prove the liability of the at-fault party (remember, in a workers’ compensation claim, you do not need to prove liability or fault). This requires proving the following elements:
- The defendant (third party) owed you a duty of care;
- The duty of care owed to you was breached;
- The breach of the duty of care was the direct cause of your accident and injuries
- You suffered damages, economic and noneconomic, as a direct result.
Statute of Limitations
Like workers’ compensation claims, there is a limit on the amount of time that you have to bring forth a third-party liability claim in the state. The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in California is two years from the date that the injury occurred.
How Can I Find a Work-Related Injury Lawyer in California Near Me?
If you’ve been injured at work, you may be wondering, “How can I find a work injury attorney near me?” We recommend getting recommendations from others who have been injured on the job before, using online search engines to find attorneys near you, reading reviews and investigating lawyers’ case histories, and, above all else, scheduling a free consultation with any prospective workplace injury law firms in California. During the free consultation, you can ask the attorney questions about their history and success rate, whether or not they focus on claims like yours, and how much they charge. Be sure to always select a law firm with experience relevant to your case, as well as a lawyer who works on a contingency fee basis.
Call Our Workplace Injury Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation
Workplace accidents are unfortunately common in California, and when they occur, workers may be left with economic losses and questions about what happens next. You can benefit from having a skilled and passionate lawyer on your side as you navigate the workers’ compensation process or pursue personal injury damages in a third-party liability suit, and our lawyers are ready to serve you. Please send a message or call Arash Law today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team and learn more about how our work accident lawyers and personal injury lawyers in California can improve the outcome of your case.