San diego office
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San Diego Workers’ Compensation Office

Skilled Representation For Injured Workers Throughout San Diego

San Diego is the second largest city in the state and has been called the birthplace of California. As the seat of San Diego County, the city serves as the region’s economic center.

Although densely populated, the deep canyons and steep hills interspersed throughout the urbanized areas provide pockets of native landscape. With over 70 miles of coastline, the area also has numerous beaches.

The natural deep-water harbor serves as the home of Naval Base San Diego and an international trade hub. Major economic industries, including military and defense, manufacturing, technology, agriculture, and tourism provide jobs for the area’s numerous workers.

Convenient Mission Valley Location

When these workers suffer a work-related injury, they seek help from the board-certified workers’ compensation attorneys at Mitchell Law Corporation in San Diego. Located in the Mission Valley Crossroads office complex next to the interchange of Highway 163 and Mission Valley Freeway, our office is just moments from the coast and downtown. Visitors can easily find parking in the large onsite lot. While speaking with a lawyer during a free consultation, you can enjoy the scenic views of nearby Balboa Park.

UNDERSTANDING CALIFORNIA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

The workers’ compensation system of California aims to provide financial relief to employees injured on the job. Workers’ compensation can provide coverage for medical expenses resulting from a workplace injury and weekly benefits as the employee recovers. The process of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits and medical coverage is straightforward in theory but difficult in practice.

The first stage of a workers’ compensation claim is for the injured employee to notify their employer of the injury. It’s vital to notify your employer right away if you sustain any injury while performing job duties. Any delay not only leaves you vulnerable to exacerbation of your injury but may also complicate your workers’ compensation claim and other future legal options. Suppose the workers’ compensation board notices a significant delay in the time of your filing and the date you claim your injury occurred. In that case, this will inherently cast doubt over the validity of your claim. Technically, an injured employee has 30 days from the date an injury occurs to file a workers’ compensation claim form, but it is always best to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits as soon as possible following a workplace injury.

Once the California Department of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) receives an employee’s claim form, they will process the claim to determine its validity. Once you submit your claim form, your employer should direct you to seek medical attention from a local physician approved by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. In an emergency, you can seek medical care from any available physician. However, you must transfer care to a physician approved by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier once the emergency stage of your situation has passed.

The workers’ compensation doctor will perform a medical examination and assign a disability rating based on your injuries’ severity. This disability rating is crucial as it will determine the amount of your workers’ compensation benefits and how long you can expect to continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

If you encounter any issues during the process of filing your workers’ compensation claim, it’s vital to connect with an aggressive workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible. Your legal team can help you determine the best available approach to your situation and help you secure the workers’ compensation benefits you need and deserve after a workplace injury.

WHAT TYPES OF ACCIDENTS CAN LEAD TO A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM?

The DWC upholds that any injury that occurs in the workplace or while an employee is performing job-related duties or tasks qualifies for workers’ compensation. Additionally, the DWC allows workers to claim workers’ compensation when they develop medical complications from repetitive stress caused by the nature of their work. Some of the most common types of injuries that lead to workers’ compensation claims in California include:

  • Slip and fall accidents. While a slip and fall may sound like a relatively minor injury, the reality is that a slip and fall can cause devastating injuries, including traumatic brain injury, spinal injury, internal organ injury, broken bones, and more.
  • Commercial vehicle accidents. Large commercial vehicles like tractor-trailers are inherently dangerous due to their sheer size. When commercial vehicle drivers experience collisions while driving for work, they can typically expect to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they sustain injuries that prevent them from working.
  • Machinery accidents. Factories, refineries, fabrication centers, and assembly lines contain complex machinery that can inflict grievous injuries on operators. While it’s vital for all employees who work with machinery to follow safety procedures and operate machinery as carefully as possible, malfunctions and other unpredictable events can lead to catastrophic injuries, including severe lacerations, crushing injuries, even amputations.
  • Industrial accidents. Any industrial workplace is inherently hazardous, even when employees and their supervisors maintain the highest levels of workplace safety. Oil spills, machinery malfunctions, forklift accidents, and many other industrial accidents continue to be common causes of workers’ compensation claims throughout the US.
  • Construction accidents. Construction is one of the most dangerous industries for several reasons. Construction workers must traverse incomplete structures that do not contain the safety features that completed buildings have. They must also use dangerous power tools and work in tight spaces. Safety equipment malfunctions, crushing injuries, construction vehicle accidents, unpredictable accidents involving power tools, slips, trips, and falls are just some of the possible injuries construction workers face daily.
  • Unsafe premises. All property owners must ensure their premises are safe for lawful visitors. An employee can sustain injuries while working at a property outside their workplace, for example, a plumber visiting a private residence to perform work for the homeowner or a mail carrier delivering mail to a private homeowner. If the property owner knew of a hazard on their premises and failed to notify the employee, the injured employee would have grounds for a workers’ compensation claim and potentially grounds for a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner.
  • Dangerous workplace conditions. All employers must take appropriate measures to ensure their workplaces are as safe as possible for employees. If a supervisor or business owner knows of a dangerous workplace condition, or if an employee notifies their supervisor of such a condition, they must take appropriate measures to fix the hazard to prevent it from causing injuries to employees.

These are just a few examples of workplace injuries that can easily lead to workers’ compensation claims in California.

HOW MUCH CAN I RECEIVE IN WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS?

You can expect to receive two main elements to the workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace injury: medical expense coverage and weekly lost income benefits. When it comes to your medical expenses, a workers’ compensation insurance carrier is liable for up to $10,000 of your medical expenses while your claim is being considered, even if your claim is ultimately denied. If the claim is approved, an injured worker can expect their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company to cover all medical treatment “reasonably required to cure or relieve” the injury.

Determining how much medical care the employee needs typically comes down to the initial physician’s disability rating and interpretation of the employee’s injuries. Some injuries are quite severe and may entail multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, while others may be reasonably cured or relieved by a single visit to the hospital.

When it comes to weekly lost income benefits, the California DWC will pay an injured employee two-thirds of their average weekly wages each week in temporary disability benefits. The maximum amount an employee can receive in temporary disability benefits changes each year. For California in 2021, the minimum amount an injured employee can expect to receive is $203.44, and the maximum allowable weekly benefit is $1,356.31. California state law allows an injured employee to collect temporary disability benefits for a maximum of 104 weeks in a two-year period. However, once the employee reaches maximum medical improvement or heals from their injury to the fullest extent possible, benefits payments will end.

Some injured workers can qualify for permanent disability benefits if their injuries are severe enough to prevent them from working in the future. If the workers’ compensation physician assigns you a 100% disability rating, you will likely qualify for total permanent disability benefits for the rest of your life. It is also possible to be eligible for partial permanent disability benefits if your condition prevents you from earning the same level of income you earned before your injury.

AM I ELIGIBLE FOR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION IF I’M HURT WHILE DRIVING A TRACTOR-TRAILER?

The California DWC upholds that tractor-trailer drivers qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they sustain injuries while driving for work. This can apply to injuries from accidents caused by other drivers and injuries and medical conditions developed from the repetitive stress of driving long hauls regularly.

IS IT WORTH GETTING A WORKERS’ COMP ATTORNEY?

Even under the best possible circumstances, navigating the workers’ compensation claim process can be incredibly challenging for an injured employee. Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney is one of the best ways to streamline this process and bolster the chance of success with a claim. Your workers’ compensation attorney can help you complete all required claim forms and address any issues you encounter while working within the California workers’ compensation system. For example, if you visit a health care provider approved by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier and believe they assigned an incorrect disability rating, your attorney may help you determine the best way to obtain a second opinion.

Your workers’ compensation attorney will also be an invaluable asset if you encounter any unexpected resistance from the DWC in processing your claim or from your employer. Some employers try to discourage injured workers from filing for workers’ compensation benefits because claims will increase the employer’s insurance premiums. Some employers go so far as to fire these employees, demote them, or create hostile work environments. This is illegal retaliation, and hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is one of the best ways to prevent encountering such behavior from your employer.

Perhaps the most important reason to hire a workers’ compensation attorney after experiencing an injury at work is to ensure you recover as much as possible for your damages. An experienced and aggressive workers’ comp attorney will ensure their client fully explores every available avenue of compensation available to them after an injury at work. These avenues could include legal action against an employer, third party, or other entity bearing responsibility for the workers’ damages.

CAN I SUE IF I’M ON WORKERS’ COMP?

California state law requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This rule exists not only to protect workers and provide them with economic relief after workplace injuries but also serves to insulate employers from legal action from their employees. Typically, workers’ compensation is an “exclusive remedy” for a workplace injury, meaning that you cannot sue your employer if you have filed for workers’ compensation benefits. However, there are two main exceptions to this rule:

  • You may take legal action if your employer intentionally harmed you. While rare, these incidents can and do happen. However, it is vital for the employee to carefully discern whether the harm was intentional or the result of negligence. Negligence or carelessness, however severe, does not legally constitute intentional harm under California law.
  • You may sue your employer if they do not have workers’ compensation insurance. An employer who fails to obtain workers’ compensation insurance violates California state law.

It is also vital for injured employees to remember that they cannot sue their employer if their workers’ compensation claim is denied. You may, however, file an appeal on your denied claim with the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney.

If your workplace injury occurred due to the actions of a third party who is not your employer, you could pursue a personal injury claim against this third party to secure additional compensation beyond what workers’ compensation benefits can provide.

Call Us Today To Get Started

An on-the-job injury often impacts your finances as well as your health. We can help. Talk to our lawyers about your workplace injury by scheduling a free consultation. To arrange yours, call 866-288-5792 or send us an email. We also have offices in Los Angeles and Riverside. Se habla español.

Mitchell Law Corporation
404 Camino Del Rio South
Suite 603
San Diego, CA 92108
Telephone: 619-702-6518
Fax: 310-571-1862

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