If you or someone you love suffered an injury at work, it is important to act quickly. California has strict time limits when it comes to receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Failing to complete the necessary paperwork in time could leave you without the benefits you need to move beyond a workplace accident.
At Mitchell Law Corporation, we represent injured workers from Riverside to San Diego and throughout Los Angeles County. Our team includes a board-certified workers’ compensation specialist, allowing us to effectively resolve the most challenging workers’ compensation cases.
Injured workers typically must notify their employer within 30 days of becoming aware of an injury or illness. Failing to submit the Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC 1) within 30 days may result in a denied claim.
Upon receiving the DWC 1, your employer has at least five days to file a claim on your behalf. The insurance company will notify you within 14 days about the status of your claim. If you do not hear from the insurer after 14 days, it is a good idea to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney who will protect your rights.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be more complex than an injured employee may realize at first. These claims require you to submit complete and accurate information, and any delays or errors with your workers’ compensation claim can significantly impair your ability to secure economic relief from your workplace injury. Your lawyer can help you with your San Diego workers comp claims for benefits and provide ongoing aid as your workers compensation case unfolds.
Unfortunately, securing workers’ compensation benefits is rarely as easy as filing your claim and waiting for your check to come in the mail. You will need to undergo a medical examination from a physician approved by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, and they will assign you a disability rating based on the severity of your injury. You can see any available doctor at once following your injury if it requires emergency medical care, but once you stabilize, you must visit an approved physician to receive your disability rating.
An experienced San Diego workers’ compensation attorney can not only assist you with your initial claim, but they can also supply legal guidance if your claim is denied, unfairly delayed, or challenged by the state workers’ compensation board. Additionally, if you encounter any interference from your employer, your workers’ comp lawyer can help you address these situations as well. For example, if your employee fires you after you request workers’ compensation claim forms, this would constitute illegal retaliation and enable you to take legal action against your employer.
Workers’ compensation exists to ensure that any employee injured on the job can secure economic relief for medical bills and lost income resulting from the injury. This includes not only acute injuries such as falls, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, toxic exposure, and crushing injuries, but also acquired injuries such as degenerative conditions from repetitive motion.
Regardless of whether you injured yourself accidentally or a coworker or other party injured you, you can file a workers’ compensation claim if the injury occurred at work. It is also legal to file for workers’ compensation if you are injured outside of the workplace but are performing job duties at the time your injury occurred. For example, if you are driving to a jobsite or making a delivery and a drunk driver strikes your vehicle, you would be able to file for workers’ compensation since you were executing your job duties when the accident occurred.
Some industries have higher rates of workers’ compensation claims than others due to the nature of the work involved in those industries. For example, construction, logging, and commercial fishing have some of the highest rates of workers’ compensation claims because employees in these fields face many physical dangers in the workplace. However, it is important to remember that office workers and people who hold white-collar positions may also suffer workplace injuries. These workers also have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits.
Fall injuries are the most cited injury for workers’ compensation claims. Falls from any height can potentially cause severe injuries like broken bones or traumatic brain injury. Other injuries that often lead to workers’ compensation claims include sprains, injuries from falling objects, material handling injuries, crushing injuries, wounds sustained from machinery and heavy equipment, and vehicle-related injuries.
Many people file workers’ compensation claims for injuries that develop gradually over time. For example, an office worker who spends most of the day typing may develop carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis that causes daily pain and discomfort. If they can prove they acquired their condition from work, they are entitled to claim workers’ compensation benefits. Repetitive motion injuries, degenerative conditions, and even medical complications like cancer can potentially qualify for workers’ compensation as long as the claimant acquired them in the workplace or in the course of work-related duties.
Once you file your workers’ compensation claim and receive a disability rating from a workers’ compensation doctor, it usually takes anywhere from four to eight weeks before you will receive any money from the state. Additionally, some factors may delay your workers’ compensation claim, such as incomplete information, inaccuracies on your claim paperwork, or interference from your employer.
While you may be concerned about how soon you can expect to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you should also know how long you can expect to receive those benefits. The California workers’ compensation system awards medical expenses as soon as the employee requires them, and disability benefits are awarded on a weekly basis until the employee reaches maximum medical improvement. Generally, California limits workers’ compensation weekly benefits to 104 weeks or two years, but it is possible to stagger payments across five full years.
If an injured employee’s workplace injury qualifies as a “severe” injury, they may be entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits for 240 weeks. In the most extreme cases, in which an employee is left permanently disabled from a workplace injury, the injured employee may qualify for long-term workers’ comp benefits for the rest of their life. However, availability of long-term disability benefits depends on the breadth of the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage. It is more likely that the injured employee will need to seek long-term benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance once their workers’ compensation benefits end.
Filing a good faith claim for workers’ compensation benefits is a protected action. Even in an at-will employment state, an employer may not fire an injured employee to prevent them from claiming workers’ compensation benefits. When an employer engages in adverse actions against an employee in response to the employee engaging in a protected action, this is considered retaliation and can lead to severe legal penalties for the employer.
Retaliatory actions can include:
These are just a few examples of retaliation that an injured employee may face. In the event you have experienced any such actions from your employer after requesting workers’ compensation claim forms, you should speak with an experienced San Diego workers’ comp lawyer as soon as possible.
If you suffer an injury at work and your workers’ compensation benefits are not enough to fully compensate for the losses you experienced, you might wonder whether you can sue your employer. Typically, workers’ compensation insurance will shield an employer from lawsuits filed by employees, but there are some exceptions to this. For example, California state law requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance or enough coverage to fully cover your injuries, you may have the right to take legal action against them. Additionally, if you can prove your employer was negligent, you may be able to file a civil claim against them.
It is also possible to take legal action beyond workers’ compensation if a third party caused your injury. For example, if you are driving as a part of your work-related duties and another driver hits you and causes a severe injury, you are entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and may have grounds for a third-party claim against the driver responsible for your accident. This could effectively allow you to secure compensation for your losses that workers’ compensation does not cover.
If you sustained an injury due to an unreasonably dangerous or defective product, you may also be able to take legal action against the product manufacturer under product liability laws. In addition, if a coworker injured you due to negligence or an intentional harmful act, you may have grounds for a third-party personal injury claim against the coworker.
Ultimately, most workers’ compensation claims can be more complex than they seem. One of the best things you can do to maximize your recovery after a workplace injury is to speak with an attorney about your San Diego workers comp claim as soon as possible. Hiring an attorney can significantly reduce the chances of experiencing undue pushback on your claim from the state workers’ compensation board. You can also address any potential retaliation concerns as soon as possible.
Consider your choice to hire an attorney to represent your workers’ comp claim as an investment into your recovery. Your attorney can significantly streamline the claim process for you, provide detailed legal guidance as your case unfolds, and help you with appeals you may need to file concerning your claim. Additionally, if you have grounds for legal action beyond the workers’ compensation system, your attorney can help you with this as well.
In most cases, the statute of limitations to file for workers’ compensation benefits in California is one year. Missing this deadline could leave you on the hook for medical bills and other fees associated with suffering an injury.
Speak with our team today to ensure the necessary legal actions are taken and all deadlines are met. We will guide you through the workers’ compensation process and will work tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve. Call our firm toll free at 619-314-6212. You may also send us an email to schedule a free consultation with an experienced lawyer.