A Note about Workers’ Compensation
Employers in California are required to carry workers’ compensation for their employees, which includes all the following benefits for those injured on the job:
- covered medical treatment for current and ongoing related healthcare needs
- temporary disability payments for those whose injuries prevent them from performing their usual jobs
- permanent disability benefits for those whose doctors diagnose them with injuries that preclude them from returning to work in the same capacity
- supplemental job displacement vouchers, which are designed to pay for the cost of seeking retraining for those who are unable to return to their former jobs
- death benefits for the family members of those who ultimately succumb to their job-related injuries
Accidents on the job are all too common, and seeking the compensation to which you are entitled can play a critical role in your ability to recover as completely as possible.
The Benefits to Both Parties
To better understand workers’ compensation, it’s important to recognize that it’s intended to balance the rights of both employers and employees. Doing so is accomplished by removing the element of fault from the calculation process, which comes with the following benefits for both parties:
- Employees are ensured coverage when they suffer an injury on the job – regardless of who is at fault – and the claims process is streamlined in comparison to the fault-based personal injury process.
- Employers are relieved of the risk associated with facing costly and time-consuming personal injury claims related to accidents on the job, which inevitably happen.
What Both Parties Give Up
In exchange for the benefits afforded by the workers’ compensation process, both parties give something up, including:
- Employees are not entitled to the full range of compensation they will be in successful personal injury claims. For example, workers’ compensation does not address pain and suffering.
- Employers are on the hook for covering claims even when the employees themselves may be at fault or may share fault.
Only in rare instances in which the employer’s negligence in the matter was especially egregious can employees file personal injury lawsuits against their employers.
Step One: Seek the Medical Attention You Need
If you’ve had an accident on the job, it’s important not to put off seeking the medical attention that you need. It is not uncommon for very serious injuries to take their time when it comes to presenting with the kind of symptoms that you recognize as requiring immediate medical attention. In the meantime, your condition can worsen and become more difficult to treat. The fact is that early diagnosis is the surest way to support your most complete recovery, which makes pursuing medical attention as soon after your work-related accident as possible paramount.
Additionally, the workers’ compensation insurance company handling your claim is in the business of paying out as little as it can manage in the form of settlements, meaning that it will be looking for reasons to devalue your claim. By seeking the immediate medical attention that you require, you send a strong message to the insurance company that says your claim is exactly as serious as you maintain, which lets the insurance company know that it should take the situation as seriously as you are taking it.
Step Two: Let Your Employer Know About Your Accident
Step Three: Follow Your Medical Team’s Instructions
Step Four: Reach Out to a Dedicated Workers’ Compensation Attorney Sooner Rather than Later
Denying Your Claim from the Start
Making You an Early but Inadequate Offer
Another technique that workers’ compensation insurance providers like to employ is making early settlement offers that are inadequate to cover claimants’ losses but that the claimants’ may be desperate enough to accept. You are watching your medical bills pile up while your earnings dwindle, which can leave you feeling like anything is better than nothing. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that without the just compensation to which you’re entitled, your recovery will be that much more challenging – and elusive.
Denying The Extent of Your Injuries
Delaying or Overly Complicating the Claims Process
The workers’ compensation claims process is complicated and lengthy enough without the insurance company purposefully making it more so. Some providers, however, will engage in practices that drag out and complicate the claims process as another means of wearing down claimants and pushing them to accept less compensation than the amounts to which they’re entitled.
All of these reasons and more are exactly why it’s so important to have a seasoned workers’ compensation attorney in your corner – from as early in the process as possible.
How Your Trusted Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help
Communicating with the Insurance Company for You
As mentioned, the insurance company would like you to accept a less-than-adequate settlement in their efforts to keep their profits robust, and another tool at their disposal is culling damaging statements out of vulnerable accident victims like you. While it may be difficult to understand how answering a few simple questions put to you by the workers’ compensation insurance company can harm your claim, failure to recognize the risk involved jeopardizes your settlement.
Suffice it to say that the insurance rep on the other end of the phone is very good at obtaining statements from claimants that subsequently damage their own claims. By allowing your focused attorney to communicate with the insurance company on your behalf, you bypass this risk and strengthen your claim in the process.
Building Your Strongest Claim
Skillfully Negotiating with the Insurance Rep
Being Well-Prepared to Move Forward with the Appropriate Legal Steps
Step Five: Know How to Help Protect Your Claim
Your workers’ compensation claim will include circumstances that are unique to your situation, and it will follow its own unique path. However, there are steps that every injured employee with a workers’ compensation claim can follow to help protect their rights throughout the process, including:
- obtaining the medical attention you need, carefully following your doctor’s instructions, and following up on the next steps in relation to your recovery and health
- working closely with an accomplished workers’ compensation attorney from the start
- allowing your attorney to guide your claim and deal with the insurance company on your behalf
- deferring to your attorney when the insurance company seeks a statement from you, which you should expect
- staying off social media while your claim is pending – it’s far too easy to post pictures and comments that the insurance company will not only be very interested in but will also be sure to put whatever claim-damaging spin on they can manage