As dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys, we hear a lot of questions from clients about the process of filing a claim. Although virtually all work-related injuries are covered under California’s workers’ compensation laws, there are many myths floating around out there about this program — and how to begin the process of seeking your benefits.
At Humphrey & Associates, we’re here to help. We’ve won over $400 million for our clients over the years, and because we have offices throughout the Inland Empire, L.A., and Orange County, we can give you personalized legal service wherever you are. In this post, we’ll discuss the top 7 questions we get regarding workers’ compensation, and explain how you can get started.
Question #1: When am I eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?
If you sustained an on-the-job injury that was directly related to your work, or even just caused during business hours, you are eligible to file for a workers’ compensation claim. In California, this also includes repetitive injuries, such as hearing impairments because of noise.
Question #2: Who pays for workplace injuries?
While this is one of the most common questions we receive, it also has the most straightforward answer: The workers’ compensation insurance provider for your employer will foot the bill for any approved claims, not your employer. In the state of California, all employers are required to carry this type of insurance, under California Labor Code Section 3700.
Question #3: Can I go to my own doctor?
You will most likely need to visit an employer-selected doctor after your workplace injuries, as part of their insurance plan requirements. Although it’s technically possible to request your own doctor, the process — known as “predesignation” — is complicated, and will require that you’ve already communicated the name and address of your doctor before the injury took place (and that you’ve done so in writing).
Question #4: How long will it take for me to get paid?
Depending on the nature of your injuries, you could get approved and paid relatively quickly — or it might take a while to get the compensation you need. In most cases, you will be filing for temporary disability (TD) benefits to cover your work injuries, and in those circumstances, the insurance provider will need to send you a check within 14 days after the date your employer was notified.
Question #5: Can I sue in lieu of workers’ compensation?
No. The California Workers’ Compensation Act is considered a “sole and exclusive remedy” for workplace injury claims, to ensure that all Californians are equally protected under the law. Unless your employer committed discriminatory or illegal actions, you must stick to the workers’ compensation system for financial recovery.
Question #6: Can my employer fire me while I’m on workers’ compensation?
Although the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) prevents employers from terminating an employee on 12-week unpaid leave for a medical condition, this doesn’t always overlap with state laws on workers’ compensation.
Fortunately, in California, it is also illegal for your employer to retaliate against you in any way for filing a workers’ compensation claim, or for a work absence due to the injury. Your old job may not remain open indefinitely, but any harassment or retaliation about your claim could be considered discrimination.
Question #7: How long can I continue to receive treatment?
You are entitled to benefits for as long as it is “medically necessary” to recover. However, this is subject to a utilization review (UR), which is administered by a third party and used to determine if your doctor’s care plan is still necessary. There are also limitations to specific treatments in California without special permission from a doctor: You can only have 24 chiropractic, 24 physical therapy, or 24 occupational therapy visits.
Effective Representation in Workers’ Comp Cases
While these are some of the most commonly heard questions, there are hundreds of other questions you might have about your workplace injuries and securing compensation. That’s why our attorneys at Humphrey & Associates aim to deliver prompt and powerful assistance, and we always offer free consultations, too. When you call our team, you can trust that we'll help you with any part of the claims process, from filing to final settlement.
For more information about your workers’ comp claim, just call (844) 612-5800 today.