The average American spends the majority of each day at work, yet very few people anticipate experiencing serious injury while on the job. However, the consequences of a workplace injury can be severe. Not only are many injured workers faced with substantial medical treatment and its associated costs, but many also encounter financial strain due to lost wages and other financial losses. Some are even unable to return to their previous position at all.
Once you’ve been injured on the job, the situation can become overwhelming quickly, and it can be difficult to determine how you should proceed. Generally, the best course of action is to seek the counsel of a trusted CA workers’ comp lawyer as soon as possible. A skilled attorney can help you navigate the claims process and help you choose a legal solution that will provide the best chance for you to recover your financial losses.
If you were injured on the job in San Bernardino Valley or Riverside, California, the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Mitchell Law Group can help you through the complex claims or litigation process ahead. We have provided expert personal injury services to Southern California workers for over 20 years and take pride in helping workers relieve the burden of workplace medical bills.
In simple terms, a workers’ compensation lawyer is a certified legal professional tasked with fighting for the rights of those injured at the workplace. After someone has been seriously injured at their California workplace, this specialized personal injury lawyer will be there to answer any questions they have about the legal process ahead. This includes how to file their workers’ compensation claim completely and accurately. If a claim is filed incorrectly, the resulting legal hurdles can severely complicate, slow, or even disqualify a case.
Your workers’ compensation attorney will begin by performing a thorough investigation of the incident in question, building a clear understanding of the event that led to the injury. This investigation enables the attorney to determine that the event occurred at work, whether gross negligence occurred on the part of the employer or another employee, and determine that their client is rightfully owed compensation for their losses.
A workers’ compensation lawyer can also negotiate directly with the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider. These negotiations can be incredibly tricky without the support of a lawyer, as the goal of many insurance companies is to offer a minimal settlement for the worker’s injuries to reduce their losses. If the settlement proposed is unfair, your attorney can alert you and negotiate a more favorable settlement. In the rare case that your workers’ comp claim must proceed to court, your lawyer will navigate the litigation process and argue on your behalf.
In the state of California, all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This is the case even if the employer has only one employee. Thus, if you are an employee at a workplace you do not own, you shouldn’t need to worry whether your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance.
The most fundamental prerequisites for workers’ compensation are simple; the accident must have occurred at the workplace or while performing duties that are within the scope of your job. Further, the accident must have caused an injury that resulted in legal damages. Similarly, even if the accident was partially—or totally—your fault, workers’ compensation should still cover your damages. The workers’ compensation system is only concerned with whether the accident happened at work rather than fault unless you intentionally caused your injury while at work.
The most common reasons for workers’ compensation denial relate to a failure to meet these prerequisites. Reasons can include but are not limited to:
Even if your workers’ compensation claim is denied, you may still be able to secure compensation for your expenses. Your CA workers’ comp attorney can help you file an appeal requesting re-examination of the evidence.
Although California workers have the right to file workers’ compensation claims and represent themselves during any ensuing litigation, this isn’t usually a good decision. Failing to hire an attorney could lead you to accept an unfair settlement of your claim. In some cases, employers may illegally deny your right to file a workers’ compensation claim or state that the accident never occurred in the first place. This can be an extremely difficult battle to fight without a lawyer skilled in negotiating workers’ compensation claims.
Further, if the initial settlement offered isn’t fair or just, you will need the advice of a Riverside, CA workers’ compensation attorney to proceed. Without a lawyer, many injured workers will accept this early settlement without realizing it will fall far short of the expenses incurred due to their injuries.
Workers in the following positions are in especially dire need of an injury lawyer after filing a workers’ comp claim in California:
The worker’s employer has retaliated against them for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This could involve termination, demotion, a reduction in hours, or any other punishment for filing the injury claim.
There are many kinds of damages a California workers’ compensation claim can address. Depending on the situation, workers may experience one or more of these damages. These are the most common.
As an employee heals and recovers from a workplace injury, they may be unable to continue working. Without temporary benefits, this could lead to a serious loss of income. Fortunately, workers experiencing a temporary disability due to a workplace injury have every right to file a workers’ compensation claim.
California state law allows CA workers to seek out temporary disability benefits. The temporary disability benefits available vary depending on a number of factors, including the worker’s income. It is also worth noting that these benefits aren’t taxable.
Unfortunately, some work injuries result in a permanent disability. In these instances, the worker has experienced injuries that prevent them from ever returning to their job. Without adequate disability compensation, this situation can lead to severe financial hardship.
A medical care professional must assess the severity of the injury and the resulting disability and indicate when the worker’s condition has stabilized. The condition is considered stabilized when no additional medical care will lead to further improvement. If the severity of the disability will permanently prevent the individual from returning to work, permanent disability benefits must be considered. The workers’ compensation system requires that disabilities remain “permanent and stationary” to qualify for permanent disability compensation.
Although many work injuries occur due to a single accident or event, this isn’t always the case. It is also possible for workplace injuries to develop over a period of time due to the routine tasks that the worker performs on the job. For example, repetitive motions like wielding a hammer could cause the body to develop an injury over time. These injuries can then lead to the development of a cumulative trauma disorder, which can result in tendons, muscles, and/or nerve tissue experiencing excessive wear. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common example of a cumulative trauma injury.
Remember, it is the employer’s responsibility to reduce the risk of harm or injury for their employees. Whether they fail in this duty or the injury occurs as a part of normal working conditions, the injured worker has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Not all workers’ compensation claims in California are filed as a result of a physical injury or disability. It is also possible for some individuals to receive serious psychological trauma from their position, making them eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These injuries can include conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more.
When a worker develops cognitive, psychological, and/or neuropsychological problems, their ability to perform their job can be hindered just as much as with a physical work injury like a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury. With these conditions, the cost of continued treatment can add up, and the worker may also face significant damages due to lost wages. Unfortunately, emotional and psychological injuries can be difficult to prove. Thus, it is especially essential that the worker hire a workers’ compensation attorney to support their case.
Workplace injuries come in a wide variety of forms, many of which are serious and could lead to long-term disability. Common workplace injuries include but are not limited to knee injuries, back injuries, spine injuries, shoulder injuries, and more. The following types of incidents can lead to work injuries:
Depending on the nature of the injury and how it occurred, the available benefits can vary. Ultimately, the purpose of workers’ compensation is to cover the financial needs of any injured worker, depending on what those specific needs are. Severe injuries are more likely to receive a more substantial settlement due to the increased likelihood of higher medical bills, disability, and other accommodations.
Workers’ compensation benefits can cover any of the following:
Many individuals cite cost as a reason to avoid hiring a Riverside, CA workers’ compensation attorney. However, is it actually expensive to hire a workers’ comp attorney?
Many injured workers assume that the cost of a lawyer will be too high to manage. This belief often comes from a misunderstanding of how workers’ compensation lawyers and other kinds of personal injury attorneys charge their clients.
Workers’ compensation attorneys use what’s known as a contingency system of payment. Simply put, if the client doesn’t receive compensation as a result of their claim, they will not owe their attorney any fees. Alternatively, if the attorney successfully earned their client workers’ compensation, the attorney will receive a previously agreed-upon percentage of this compensation—usually between 15 and 25%.
Sometimes, an employer will attempt to punish an employee for filing a workers compensation claim. Often, punishment may come in the form of demotion, reduction in hours, or even outright termination. Other employers choose to harass the worker in other ways.
It is expressly against California law for employers to punish workers in this way. If you have been fired, harassed, demoted, or otherwise punished as a direct result of filing a claim for workers compensation, it’s crucial that you reach out to an attorney. An attorney can ensure your rights to file a claim and receive compensation are protected and potentially help you pursue additional litigation against your employer.
For over 20 years, Mitchell Law Corporation has fought to secure the rights of injured workers in Southern California. We provide the highest caliber of legal representation and take pride in helping our clients receive the workers compensation benefits they deserve. We also have extensive experience representing injured migrant workers and can help protect you against deportation.
If you’re interested in scheduling a consultation or would like to request more information, contact our firm today.