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Workers’ Comp Laws in CA

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If you work in California as an employee, you are entitled to workers’ compensation. If you get hurt on the job, it’s important to understand your rights and your employer’s obligations. Below, we discuss the basics of workers’ compensation applicability and coverage. For help understanding your rights and maximizing your benefits after a workplace injury, call a knowledgeable Riverside workers’ compensation attorney for advice and representation.

Who Is Entitled to Workers’ Comp?

All employees in California are guaranteed workers’ compensation coverage. The requirement applies to all employers who have at least one employee. All employees are covered, including part-time and full-time employees.

Failing to provide workers’ comp coverage to employees is illegal. Certain large businesses are self-insured rather than purchasing external insurance policies, but they still must provide the appropriate coverage for employees.

Workers classified as “independent contractors” are not covered.

What Is Covered by Workers’ Comp?

Workers’ compensation covers injuries and illnesses sustained at work or while performing job-related duties (injuries “arising out of the course of employment”). Injuries at the office or worksite are covered, as are off-site injuries sustained during work tasks (such as accident-related injuries sustained during a work delivery).

Workers’ comp covers illnesses contracted at work, such as cancer or other conditions caused by chemical exposure in the workplace. Workers’ comp also covers conditions that develop over time due to actions at work, such as repetitive stress disorder and carpal tunnel.

Both physical and mental illnesses are covered, so long as they can be tied to working conditions. Special rules apply to mental health conditions.

What Workers’ Comp Benefits Are Available?

If you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you can collect one or more sets of benefits. There are five principal types of benefits:

  • Medical care. You are entitled to compensation for your medical bills and incidental costs, such as travel to a doctor’s appointment.

  • Temporary disability benefits. If you are unable to work temporarily because of your workplace injury, you can collect two-thirds of your average wages. Temporary disability benefits last until either you return to work, a doctor advises that you can return to work, or your condition stabilizes, and you become eligible for permanent disability benefits.

  • Permanent disability benefits. If your injury is permanent and causes a disability, you can collect permanent disability benefits. If you are totally disabled and unable to return to work, you can receive two-thirds of your pre-injury weekly wages for the rest of your life. If you are permanently partially disabled, you can receive those benefits for a set period of time.

  • Supplemental job displacement benefits (SJDB). If your injury is permanent and will prevent you from ever returning to your current position, but you would be physically able to work in a different profession, you can collect supplemental job displacement benefits. SJDB comes in the form of a $6,000 voucher to be used for education, training, equipment, and other items necessary to get you a new job.

  • Death benefits. If a worker is killed on the job, the worker’s dependents (including children and dependent spouse) can obtain burial costs and certain cash benefits.

It’s Illegal to Retaliate Against an Employee for Filing for Workers’ Comp

Filing for and obtaining workers’ compensation benefits are rights that belong to all California employees. Employers are not permitted to retaliate against employees in any way for seeking workers’ comp protection. It is illegal to fire an employee, reduce their compensation, or otherwise discriminate against an employee because they expressed an intention to file a workers’ compensation claim, have actually filed a workers’ comp claim, or have obtained workers’ comp benefits. Retaliating against an employee based on a workers’ comp claim is a criminal act.

If you or someone you love has suffered illness or injury on the job in California, get help seeking the workers’ compensation benefits you’re owed by contacting the Riverside offices of Ochoa & Calderón for a consultation on your case.

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