Workers Compensation Lawyers in Inland Empire

Helping Injured Workers Stand Up for Their Rights

According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, there were over 403,000 nonfatal work injuries in the state in 2022. That means 3 out of every 100 full-time workers suffered a nonfatal injury on the job. Furthermore, as many as 504 workers died on the job in 2022, with the trucking and warehousing industries leading the chart for the industries with the highest number of fatal and nonfatal injuries.

If you are an injured worker, it is important to be aware of your rights under California’s worker’s compensation laws. The attorneys at Espinoza Law Group explain how worker’s compensation works in California, the steps you need to take to file a claim, and why you may want to consider hiring an attorney to help you. If you have any questions about your specific case, contact the Espinoza Law Group at 213-667-0701.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a system designed to ensure that employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their job receive appropriate medical care and financial support. In other words, it is a type of insurance that provides a variety of benefits to employees who are injured or become ill due to their work activities. It is a legal requirement in many states, including California.

Worker’s compensation offers no-fault coverage for all eligible employees. That means the injured worker may receive medical benefits and partial income replacement benefits regardless of who may have been at fault for the worker’s injury or illness. It also means that employers who offer worker’s comp coverage typically cannot be sued in court by the injured worker.

What Does Worker’s Compensation Cover in California?

In California, workers’ compensation insurance covers any injuries and illnesses that may occur in the course of employment and are a direct consequence of the employee’s work activities. This may include physical injuries, such as those caused by falls, machinery, or any other type of accident, as well as those caused by repetitive movements. Worker’s compensation can also cover occupational diseases and illnesses, such as those caused by repeated exposure to hazardous substances or other work-related conditions. Workers’ compensation offers several benefits to injured employees, including medical benefits and wage replacement, as well as vocational rehabilitation and death benefits.

Injured employees are entitled to all necessary and reasonable medical treatment for their work-related injury or illness. This can include doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and all other necessary medical expenses to treat their condition. Worker’s comp also allows injured workers to receive a portion of their lost wages while they are recovering.

This benefit is paid as a percentage of their regular wages, and the amount depends on the severity of their injury and the duration of their disability. It is worth mentioning that these percentages get updated and adjusted frequently. For example, as of 2024, a worker who normally receives an average pay of $364.30 to $2,428.72 may receive temporary disability benefits that correspond to ⅔ of their weekly pay.

If an employee is permanently disabled and unable to return to their previous position, they may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation services and career training to help them qualify for a different position or make a career change. Vocational services may include job training, job placement assistance, and other types of assistance. If an employee dies as a result of their work-related injury or illness, their spouse and dependent children may be entitled to death benefits, such as funeral and burial expenses and income replacement benefits for the decedent’s spouse and dependent children.

What Should I Do if I Have Been Injured on the Job?

If you were hurt on the job, it is important to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible and seek emergency medical care for any life-threatening injuries. Likewise, if you have been diagnosed with an illness or health condition that is believed to be a result of your job activities, you should also report it to your employer as soon as you learn about your condition. In general, job-related injuries and illnesses should be reported to your employer within 30 days.

Your employer will provide you with a workers’ compensation claim form called a DWC-1. The form should be given to you no later than a day after you report your injury or occupational disease. It is crucial to fill out this form correctly and in a timely manner, as it allows you to initiate the process of filing your claim.

Your employer will then submit the completed claim form to the insurance company that provides them with worker’s compensation coverage. In general, the insurance company is expected to send you a letter within 14 days to inform you of the status of your claim, but the claims administrator should authorize up to $10,000.00 for immediate medical treatment within one day of receiving your claim, even if the claim is still being investigated. This allows you to receive care for your injury or illness right away while you are waiting for a decision on your claim.

If you do not receive a denial letter within 90 days, your claim will most likely be presumed to be covered. It may be a good idea to consult a workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss your case.

What if I Am Hurt at Work and My Employer Is Uninsured?

In California, employers are required by law to provide worker’s compensation coverage for all eligible employees. Employers may subscribe to coverage through a third-party insurance company or become self-insured. Failure to provide worker’s compensation insurance coverage is considered a criminal offense. An employer who is uninsured may be facing a misdemeanor charge that could result in a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment in a county jail of up to one year, or both. In some cases, the employer may also be facing up to $100,000.00 in additional penalties imposed by the state.

If you were hurt on the job and your employer is uninsured, they will still be responsible for covering all your costs related to your work injury or illness. In California, injured workers whose employers are illegally uninsured may also file a claim with the state’s Uninsured Employers’ Benefit Trust Fund (UEBTF), which is a special department of the Division of Worker’s Compensation that provides benefits to injured workers and pursues reimbursement from the uninsured employer. The UEBTF can even place a lien on the employer’s personal property if necessary.

In addition, you may be able to file a civil action and initiate a workplace injury lawsuit against your uninsured employer in order to recover additional compensation on top of the workers’ compensation benefits you would have been entitled to. If your employer is illegally uninsured, you may want to contact a workers compensation attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and learn your options to recover fair compensation for your work injuries.

Why Should I Hire a Workers Compensation Attorney for My Case?

While every injured worker should be able to promptly access the benefits they are entitled to, many legitimate claims end up being denied by the insurance company. In some instances, the employer or the claims administrator may try to allege that the injury occurred because the employee was engaging in horseplay or willful misconduct or that the injury was a result of a separate incident that was not job-related. Other times, the claim may be delayed, or the incorrect amount of benefits is paid.

These are just some examples of challenges that a worker’s compensation claimant may encounter, but with the help of an experienced workers compensation attorney, you may be able to address these issues and ensure you are treated fairly by the insurance company. Your attorney can assist you with the process of filing your claim, submitting any required documents, and communicating with the insurance company to ensure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to. Your attorney can also intervene if your claim is denied or if the insurance company is acting in bad faith.

At the Espinoza Law Group, our skilled worker’s compensation lawyers have helped countless injured workers receive adequate financial compensation for their work injuries. We are here to help you navigate all aspects of your worker’s comp claims process, protect your rights as an injured worker, and answer any questions you may have. Reach out to the experienced legal team at the Espinoza Law Group at 213-667-0701 to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your claim.