Injuries that are related to work are eligible for coverage under the workers’ compensation system. But what injuries count as work-related under California law?
Workers’ compensation is a system design to make sure that employees who are injured on the job are compensated for their injuries. In some cases, the connection between the injury and the workplace is obvious, such as when an employee hurts himself on a piece of machinery or if a worker slips and falls on a wet floor at the office. Other times, it may be more difficult to determine whether an injury is work-related.
If you have been hurt on the job, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help to make sure that you get the coverage you deserve for your injury and any necessary benefits.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
California has a no-fault system for injuries related to employment. This means that benefits are paid without considering who was at fault for the accident — the employer or employee. Negligence and intentional acts are typically not considered in a workers’ compensation case. Instead, the focus is on making sure that a worker who is injured is compensated appropriately. The California workers’ compensation system is an insurance-based system, where all employers are required to purchase insurance to make sure that its employees are covered.
Workers’ compensation benefits in California typically include three primary benefits: medical treatment, temporary disability compensation, and permanent disability compensation. Depending on when you were injured and the severity of your injury, you may also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation, a return to work fund and additional benefits for other injuries that may arise because of your work-related injury. If you die in a work-related injury, your dependents may be entitled to death benefits.
What Is A Work-Related Injury?
The key to being covered by the California workers’ compensation system is to have an injury that is related or connected to your work. But what does work-related mean?
Under California law, an injury or illness is considered work-related “…if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness.” A work-related injury could be a specific injury, like a broken arm, or a disease or other disabling condition.
Most cases involving workers’ compensation are fairly clear-cut, like a broken bone from a fall or a wrist injury caused by repetitive motion or cumulative trauma on the job. But some conditions may be less obvious, such as a mental condition. The worker may claim that certain job conditions — like a high level of stress or exposure to trauma — caused a mental health issue, but it can be difficult to prove that (1) the condition exists and (2) it was the result of the employee’s workplace and not other factors. A skilled workers’ compensation lawyer can analyze your case to determine whether the illness or injury would likely be deemed work-related.
A question may also arise about whether an injury away from the physical job site can be covered by workers’ compensation. If you are away from the worksite as part of your job — as a delivery driver or at a work-related conference, for example — then it will likely be covered by workers’ compensation. If you are away from your place of employment for purely personal reasons when the accident occurs, such as picking up lunch at a nearby restaurant, then it probably will not be a work-related injury for workers’ compensation purposes.
When it comes to workers’ compensation cases, it is usually a good idea to have a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer to represent you. Although you are not required to have an attorney, both your employer and the insurance company will be represented by a claims adjuster and/or an attorney if there is a dispute about your claim. If you have been hurt in a work-related injury, the attorneys of PLBSH can guide you through the process, advising you on your case and protecting your right to receive benefits. Contact our office today at (800) 435-7542 or email@example.com to learn more about how we can help you if you have been hurt on the job.