The complexities of California workers’ compensation

Most people who suffer a job-related injury in Los Angeles County understand that they could be entitled to workers' compensation. However, an injury on the job does not automatically mean that an employee will qualify for workers' comp. There are several rules in place that could jeopardize an employee's eligibility, and if an employee does not submit the necessary paperwork and documentation, they could find their application denied.

Workers' compensation benefits

In October, an employee at the Bumble Bee Food's facility in Santa Fe Springs was killed when he was locked inside an industrial oven, according to the Whittier Daily News. The accident occurred after he went into the oven to fix it. Tragically, the oven was subsequently turned on. The death led to an investigation by the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health, which revealed that prior to the death of the employee, two other employees were injured in work-related accidents at the same facility.

The DIR states that there are essentially five types of workers' compensation benefits provided to injured employees. These benefits are:

  • Permanent disability
  • Temporary disability
  • Death benefits
  • Medical care
  • Supplemental job displacement benefits

There may be other benefits which an employee qualifies for, depending on the type of injury and the circumstances surrounding it.

Qualifying

In order to qualify for workers' compensation benefits in California, there are a number of guidelines and rules which an employee must adhere to. For example, if an employee believes that they have a work-related injury, they must notify their employer about the injury before seeking treatment. If the injury is an occupational disease or a problem that did not appear immediately, the employee is allowed some leniency but is required to tell their employer about the injury as soon as it is determined to be work-related.

While independent contractors and volunteers are generally not eligible for workers' compensation, temporary or part-time workers may be able to qualify. Furthermore, workers' benefits are not approved on the basis of accident culpability. This means that even if the worker's actions caused the injury, he or she could receive benefits. Employees also do not have to be legal residents of the U.S. in order to qualify.

Applying and appeals

The application process for workers' compensation requires the filling out and submitting of a claim form which should be given to the employee by their employer. An employee may also be required to submit other documents such as medical records if the injury is a disease or repetitive injury. If the claim is filled out incorrectly, there is information missing, or an employer rejects the claim, then the employee may have to appeal.

Given the complicated process of applying for and appealing a workers' compensation claim, you should meet with an experienced workers' compensation attorney. An attorney can help you understand the law in California and assist you in proving your claim and obtaining needed benefits.