Los Angeles Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workplace injuries aren’t uncommon in Los Angeles, CA. Some workers sustain injuries in accidents on the job. Others develop chronic injuries and illnesses due to the nature of their work over time.
Fortunately, California has a system in place to make sure that you’re compensated for your workplace injuries.
In California, all employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that will pay for medical bills and lost wages when an employee is injured at work.
It’s important to speak to an experienced Los Angeles workers’ compensation attorney if you’ve gotten hurt at work. While you may have the right to file a claim for benefits, it can be a challenge to recover all of the money you need. The insurance provider – and even your employer – may try to undercut or significantly limit the benefits you receive.
Hiring an attorney to represent you throughout the process can level the playing field. The Los Angeles injury lawyers at Glotzer & Leib, LLP have been fighting to protect injured workers like you for more than 14 years. We understand how critical a financial recovery can be after you get hurt at work. We’ll do everything we can to get money in your hands as soon as we can.
Contact our Los Angeles law office to schedule your free consultation. There’s a limited amount of time to pursue compensation after you sustain a workplace injury, so call to discuss your case today.
How Do I Know If My Employer Has Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
All employers in California are legally required to have a workers’ compensation insurance policy. It doesn’t matter if an employer has one employee or 10,000 employees. Employers can be self-insured or purchase coverage from a licensed insurance provider, or opt into the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF).
Your employer has post information about the workers’ compensation program in a “conspicuous location frequented by employees” where it can be easily accessible and read during the workday. You should be able to easily identify:
- The employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider
- Who’s responsible for covering the cost(s) of a workplace injury
- What to do if you get hurt on the job, and
- The types of injuries, illnesses, and events covered by workers’ comp, and
- Information about the process of seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
Don’t hesitate to speak to your employer if you cannot find this information at work. You’re legally entitled to it.
When Do I Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
You can lose out on valuable compensation if you don’t act quickly after you get hurt at work. In California, you have 30 days from the date of your injury to notify your employer. It’s not enough to just tell your employer verbally. You have to provide written notice of your work-related injury.
Once you tell your boss that you’ve been hurt, they must provide you with a workers’ compensation insurance claim form (DWC 1). You’ll need to complete the “employee” portion of this form and get it back to your employer. You’ll have one year to get this form back to your employer. This will begin the workers’ compensation insurance benefits retrieval process.
When your employer receives the DWC 1 Form, they must complete the “employer” section of the form. Once they’ve done that, they have to give the completed form to a claims administrator. This person may work for your employer, but more likely works for the workers’ compensation insurance company.
Your employer also has to give you a copy of the completed DWC 1 Form once it’s been submitted to the claims administrator. Hold onto this piece of paper for your records.
Once your claim form has been submitted to the insurer, the administrator must authorize you to seek necessary medical treatment within one day. At this point, you can go to the doctor and know that up to $10,000 of your medical bills will be covered while your claim is under review.
Can I See My Own Doctor When I Get Hurt At Work?
It depends. In all honesty, most of the time the answer is “no.” Most employers and insurers have established a Medical Provider Network (“MPN) of pre-approved medical professionals. If your employer has an MPR, you’ll have to seek help within this network.
If you choose not to see a doctor in your employer’s MPN, the insurance company may decide not to cover your medical expenses. Ask your employer for a list of pre-approved doctors and seek help as soon as you can.
What Benefits Are Available When I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
There are three types of workers’ compensation benefits you might be able to receive after getting hurt at work.
Your employer is legally required to pay for medical expenses that are “reasonably required to cure or relieve” your workplace injury or illness. Generally speaking, the insurance company has to cover any care that complies with California’s Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule (MTUS).
In other words, any standardized medical care is covered. If your doctor recommends an untraditional treatment, the insurer can still be required to cover the costs, as long as it’s “generally recognized by the national medical community.”
Workers’ compensation benefits should cover all of your legitimate work-related medical expenses, including:
- Medical equipment or devices
- Blood work and lab tests
- MRIs and X-Rays, and
- Follow-up visits.
In California, your benefits can also cover up to 24 chiropractic, physical therapy, and occupational therapy visits to treat your injury.
Temporary Disability Benefits
You can recover temporary disability benefits if your injury prevents you from doing your job. Benefits must be paid if:
- Your doctor says that you can’t work, or
- Your employer doesn’t offer other work that pays the same wage you earned before you got hurt.
Temporary disability benefits equal two-thirds of your pre-injury wages. You can receive temporary disability for up to 104 weeks within 5 years of your injury.
Permanent Disability Benefits
Sometimes your workplace injury will result in a permanent disability. If your doctor says that you’ll never fully recover or won’t ever be able to work in the same capacity again, your injury will be classified as “permanent and stationary.” At this point, you can request permanent disability benefits.
Permanent disability benefits are paid to cover permanent medical and/or emotional impairments caused by your workplace injury. The amount of benefits you can receive will depend on:
- The extent of your injury,
- Your “impairment rating”
- Whether or not your employer offers you work, and
- How much you earned before you got hurt.
An insurance claims adjuster will determine your impair rating. This rating will be critical in determining how much you can receive in permanent disability benefits. Don’t hesitate to speak with an attorney if you disagree with the impairment rating you’ve been given.
Remember, insurance companies are, first and foremost, interested in protecting their profits. They’ll find any reason to deny or limit your benefits. Hiring an attorney to handle your claim will level the playing field and put you in the best position to get all of the benefits to which you’re entitled.
You may also be entitled to benefits for retraining if you’re unable to go back to work for your previous employer. If you’re killed in an accident at work or die because of a work-related illness, your family may also be entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits. Contact our Los Angeles workplace injury lawyers to learn more.
Can My Employer or Insurance Provider Deny My Claim For Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Yes. Once you submit your claim for workers’ compensation benefits, the insurer must decide whether to deny or accept your claim. An insurer can’t deny a claim in bad faith. If there’s legitimate proof of a workplace injury, your claim for benefits must be approved.
However, workers’ compensation insurance providers will search for any reason to deny your claim. Common reasons a workers’ compensation claim is denied include:
- Injury is not work-related
- Insufficient proof of an injury
- Injury is related to another job
- Your injury doesn’t warrant medical care or treatment, or
- You’re capable of returning to work right away.
You have the right to appeal an insurance company’s decision to deny your claim for workers’ compensation benefits. This process can be complicated, so it’s best to trust your case with an experienced Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyer.
What Can I Do If My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage?
All employers with at least one employee are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, not everyone follows the law. It’s possible that your employer may try to cut corners and limit costs. If you get injured on the job and your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance coverage, you may have a couple of different options.
First, you may be able to recover benefits from California’s Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF). You’d file a claim with the UEBTF and receive benefits from the state. The UEBTF would then seek reimbursement from your employer.
Alternatively, you could file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer to recover compensation for your workplace injury. When your employer offers workers’ compensation, you waive your right to sue if you get hurt on the job.
If there’s no workers’ compensation coverage, filing a lawsuit is a legitimate option. With a lawsuit, you’re actually entitled to a wider range of benefits, including money for pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Have you sustained an injury or illness at work? Whether you’re a desk worker or a construction worker, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Glotzer & Leib, LLP to learn about your legal rights and options.
Our attorneys have been handling workers’ compensation cases in southern California for more than 14 years. We can help you navigate the complicated workers’ compensation claims process and fight for the money you need and deserve.
Your first consultation is free, so call our Los Angeles law firm for assistance today.