California law requires employers with 15 or more employers to carry workers' compensation insurance. This means a vast majority of businesses and companies in California are required to have this type of insurance, which provides compensation for employees who are injured on the job. Workers' compensation provides medical expenses and a portion of lost wages for injured workers.
The type of injuries that are compensable under this system are those that can be linked in some way to an employment requirement or condition. For example, employees who suffer repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome are entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits. A construction worker who suffers injuries as a result of a fall is also entitled to workers' compensation benefits. The family of a worker who is killed in a work-related accident is eligible to receive death benefits through workers' compensation as well.
However, it is important to remember that workers' compensation is often not enough to compensate employees who have suffered catastrophic injuries or families of workers who have died while on the job. If you are in such a situation, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced Los Angeles work injury lawyer who can help you analyze and evaluate your rights and options.
What Constitutes a Workers' Comp Injury?
Workers' compensation helps cover medical expenses, possibly some costs for rehabilitative treatment such as physical therapy, a portion of lost wages and disability expenses for workers who suffer compensable injuries because of their job. As mentioned earlier, workers' compensation may also provide death benefits to workers' families or dependents if the employee is killed in a work-related incident.
In order to be considered compensable under workers' comp insurance, the injuries must have happened to an employee as opposed to an independent contractor or vendor. The injury must have occurred in the workplace or during the course of employment. The injury must also result in impairment/disability and loss of earnings. If the injury does not meet these requirements or is not otherwise covered under California's workers' comp laws, it is considered a "non-compensable" injury and the employee would not qualify for workers' compensation benefits.
If you are an independent contractor or self-employed, it is important that you have your own workers' compensation insurance so you are covered if you are injured on the job. In fact, a number of businesses require contractors to have their own insurance before they hire them. This is to protect themselves from liability if contractors are injured on the job.
What Types of Injuries Are Covered?
Any type of injury that occurs in the workplace or during the course of employment is covered under workers' compensation benefits. Work-related injuries that may be covered include but are not limited to:
Injuries suffered on the job: This includes all types of injuries that a worker sustains on the job including falls, struck-by injuries, equipment-related injuries, electrocutions and amputations. Injuries sustained by workers when they are doing a task for their employer is also considered an on-the-job injury. For example, if you are driving doing something for your employer and are injured in a car accident, that would be considered a job-related injury as well.
Occupational illnesses: This refers to any type of illnesses or health conditions that are caused by your work environment. Work-related illnesses could range from traditional occupational illnesses such as black lung disease from exposure to coal dust to mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by repeated exposure to asbestos or most recently exposure to the coronavirus or COVID-19. In such cases, a clear link must be established between the employee's job and illness.
Repetitive motion injuries: These types of injuries can result in chronic pain. People in a wide range of jobs perform the same physical tasks repeatedly such as lifting, carrying or bending. Workers' comp typically covers repetitive stress injuries as well.
Stress-related injuries: Workers may also be able claim compensation for psychological or emotional injuries suffered because of long-term exposure to stress. Workers may be able to claim workers' compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other stress-related psychological conditions caused by sudden or traumatic events at work.
What is Not Covered Under Workers' Compensation?
Typically, injured employees will not be covered by workers' comp if they were:
- Under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident.
- Engaging in a physical altercation or horseplay.
- Commuting to or from work in a private vehicle and not engaged in a work-related activity.
- Participating in a voluntary social gathering with colleagues, which was not company-sponsored.
- Taking a work break off site.
There are also certain types of workers who may not be covered by workers' compensation such as contract employees, domestic workers (nannies, housekeepers, cooks, etc.), agricultural workers and seasonal employees.
Seeking Other Types of Compensation
Whether or not you have workers' compensation benefits, depending on the nature and circumstances of your workplace accident, you may be able to file a third-party lawsuit against party other than your employer. Examples of third parties include construction companies, general contractors, sub-contractors, property owners, other drivers and manufacturers of defective products.
It is important to remember that a third-party lawsuit is worth a lot more than workers' compensation benefits. While workers' comp doesn't cover damages such as lost future pay, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering and emotional distress, you can secure this type of compensation with a third-party lawsuit.
How Our Work Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you have suffered injuries on the job that required you seek out medical care and lose earnings, it is crucial that you seek the counsel of an experienced Los Angeles work injury lawyer who will leave no stone unturned in helping you get maximum compensation for your losses.
At Greenberg & Ruby LLP, we know and understand that this can be a turbulent and trying time in your life. We know that the pressures are not just financial, but also emotional. Our knowledgeable work injury attorneys understand the ins and outs of workers' compensation and personal injury laws. We will work diligently to evaluate your case and to help you receive the maximum amount of compensation for your tremendous losses. Call us today at (323) 782-0535 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.