If you have suffered a severe workplace injury, you should contact a skilled workers’ compensation attorney before filing your claim. It is recommended that you do this immediately after having received medical attention for your injury.
Under the workers’ compensation insurance system, you and your employer have a binding legal contract that shields your employer from litigation and also guarantees you compensation for medical bills and some portion of your lost wages following a disabling workplace injury. Unfortunately, it is common for claims examiners working for insurance companies to act in bad faith and reduce, delay, or deny legitimate claims unless they expect an aggressive workers’ compensation lawyer to hold them accountable for doing so. Fraudulent employers can similarly deprive an injured worker of some or all of their benefits when a savvy worker’s comp lawyer is not part of the legal process. If your injuries are fairly minor, you may not need a workers’ compensation attorney. If, however, your injuries are of a more serious nature and involve surgery, continuing care, or other expensive costs, a worker’s comp attorney can make sure that these economic concerns are addressed in a timely fashion by persuading insurance companies and employers to act in good faith and honor their contracts.
Even if you are partly or wholly to blame for your workplace injuries, you still have the right under California law to receive insurance benefits. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that determining responsibility for an injury is not legally important where the employee or their employer are concerned.
Frequently there are third parties including manufacturers of unsafe, malfunctioning, or defective equipment and negligent property owners who can be implicated in workplace injuries. Even careless drivers who injured you while you were driving a company vehicle on the clock can be held liable for your injuries. Third party litigation allows you to collect additional compensation beyond that to which you are legally entitled under the California workers’ compensation system. This compensation may be used to address concerns (such as the cost of pain and suffering) not covered by the workers’ compensation insurance system.
Any injury that requires treatment should be reported immediately to your employer, who in turn should provide to you, within 24 hours, an “Employee Claim for Workers’ Compensation.” This form is then completed by you and returned to your employer.