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Can An Employee Have a Workers’ Compensation Claim and a Labor Law Claim Open at the Same Time and in Reference to the Same Event?

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Workers’ compensation claims arise from workplace injuries. Often, workplace injuries come about as a result of employer negligence. For instance, employers might fail to provide proper safety equipment, they could fail to provide appropriate training, or they may require workers to perform unsafe tasks. If you have a labor law claim against your employer because your employer, for example, violated safety standards promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), does that affect your ability to collect workers’ compensation benefits? Will one claim impact the other? Read on for a discussion of the overlap between workers’ comp and labor law claims and how pursuing both might affect your claims. Call a knowledgeable Riverside workers’ compensation lawyer for advice and answers to your California labor law questions.

Labor Law and Workers’ Comp Are Separate

California law requires employers in the state to carry workers’ compensation insurance for the benefit of employees. Employees who are injured on the job are entitled to workers’ comp benefits covering their medical costs, lost wages, retraining, and disability, where applicable. Workers’ comp benefits are guaranteed regardless of the cause of the injury (with limited exceptions, such as workers intentionally injuring themselves). Workers are entitled to recover worker’s comp whether they accidentally caused their own injury or whether the injury resulted from employer negligence. California’s workers’ comp system prevents workers from filing a personal injury claim against employers even if the employer was negligent, with limited exceptions.

Labor law claims, on the other hand, arise as a result of an employer’s wrongdoing. A number of laws place requirements and limitations on employer conduct, such as prohibitions on workplace discrimination, requirements for accommodating disabilities, minimum wage and overtime, provision of medical leave, and imposition of workplace safety requirements. Labor laws are imposed by both the federal government and California state law.

Labor Law Claims and Workers’ Comp Claims Can Coexist

If an employer violates a federal or state labor law, then an employee is entitled to file a complaint and pursue a claim for damages. If a worker is hurt on the job and files a labor law claim, for example, and the employer then terminates that employee in retaliation, the worker would have two separate claims and two separate sets of remedies: One claim for workers’ comp insurance benefits, and a separate claim for unlawful retaliation and wrongful termination. The same would apply if the employer discriminates against the employee due to a disability arising from the workplace injury.

Likewise, if the employer was violating OSHA standards and those violations led to the injury, the employee can report the employer to OSHA while still pursuing their workers’ comp claims. The employer may be forced to pay a fine to the federal government due to the safety violations, which will have no impact on the employee’s workers’ comp benefits.

We Help You Get the Workers’ Comp Benefits You Deserve

For help getting benefits after an on-the-job injury or workplace illness in Southern California, call Ochoa & Calderon to discuss your case with a passionate, effective California workers’ comp lawyer. Call 951-901-4444 in Riverside or 844-401-0750 toll-free throughout Southern California.

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