Workers’ Compensation Laws Are Complicated
California workers’ compensation law has become an extremely complex area of the law and is often unfair to injured workers. At Waxman & Achermann, it is our belief that you, as an injured worker, will do better in obtaining the benefits you are entitled to and deserve with the assistance of an experienced lawyer who focuses in workers’ compensation law.
California workers’ compensation law provides a mandatory no-fault system for determining employer liability for on-the-job injuries. Once you have proven that your injury is work-related, workers’ compensation law provides the only remedy for an injured worker against his or her employer. Some exceptions may apply.
Liability is to be determined without fault; benefits are to be provided regardless if you or your employer were at fault for your injury. Under the California system (with certain exceptions), you will not be able to file for lost wages or pain and suffering damages.
Types Of Injuries Qualifying For Workers’ Compensation Benefits
California’s workers’ compensation system typically categorizes injuries as such:
- Specific injury – A specific injury occurs suddenly, such as a trip-and-fall, a specific lifting incident or a machine accident and other types of specific injuries.
- Cumulative injury – Cumulative injuries are equally valid as specific injuries, although sometimes more difficult to prove at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. Cumulative injuries are those that are a result of continuous trauma, stress or exposure, rather than suddenly. Continuous keyboarding activity, heavy lifting day in and day out, extending periods of standing, exposure to toxic chemicals or loud noises, for example. Treating or evaluating doctors will need to provide evidence to prove these types of injuries.
- Psychiatric or mental stress – Psychiatric or mental stress injuries are also recognized by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board but have been severely limited by the California Legislature in recent years. The work stress must be the predominant cause of the injured worker’s problem and the stress cannot arise out of a “lawful or non discriminatory” personnel action. As you may expect, claims for mental stress injuries are usually highly contested by employers and insurance companies and usually result in prolonged litigation. There are limits for your right to obtain disability compensation for psychiatric or psychological disabilities arising from physical injuries except in very limited circumstances, although medical treatment may still be available.
Why Hire A Lawyer?
As an injured worker in California, you may be entitled to four basic benefits, including medical care, temporary disability, permanent partial disability and job displacement benefits. The need for an attorney usually correlates with the seriousness of your injury. If you have a short-term injury requiring just a few days off work and medical treatment is voluntarily provided and there is no permanent damage from your injury, then you may not need to speak with an attorney.
If your injury results in permanent disability or restrictions, or the benefits you have a right to receive are disputed or denied, you may be far more successful in pursuing the claim with the assistance of a specialized workers’ compensation attorney.
Have You Been Hurt At Work? Let’s Talk.
At Waxman & Achermann in San Francisco, our primary focus is California workers’ compensation law. We bring the necessary experience and knowledge to these complex issues to obtain the most favorable result possible for our clients. Send us an email or call us at 415-520-7265 to initiate a free consultation to learn how we can help you.