Work Injury Lawyer, California

Based upon twenty years of representing employees and injured workers, I, Karl Gerber, founder of the Employment Lawyers Group, have taken the time to compile a list of questions I believe injured employees want to know. If you can 1-877-525-0700 you will be on the road to having questions answered about your potential workers compensation claim.

Whatever you do, do not rely on this website for legal advice. The workers compensation system like an areas of the law is laden with exceptions and different laws. Only an experienced workers compensation lawyer can properly explain the legal aspects of the workers compensation system during an interactive in-person telephone can or office appointment.

Can I receive workers compensation benefits if I am at fault in the workplace accident?

California is a no fault workers compensation system. This means that even if the workplace accident is your fault you are still eligible for workers compensation benefits. However, there may be limits to what you can recover if the injured employee intentionally caused serious or willful injury in the workplace accident. In addition, self­ inflicted intentionally caused workplace accidents are workers compensation fraud.

Bottom line, ordinary negligence is not likely to bar your workers compensation claim.

Can I receive any sort of pay from the workers compensation system if am out of work because of a work injury?

An injured worker can receive various forms of disability benefits in the workers compensation system. The disability benefits are based upon the employee's average earnings before the accident. For questions about what is considered in average earnings such as whether commissions, overtime, or bonuses are considered that is exactly the sort of thing an experienced workers compensation lawyer can explain if you call 1-877-525- 0700.

Workers compensation disability benefits are due every two weeks.

Temporary disability payments are due 14 days after knowledge of the injury and disability. There are late penalties if temporary disability is not paid on time. Temporary total disability benefits are 2/3 the employee's average weekly wage. However, reductions will occur if the injured worker received unemployment benefits through the EDD. Reductions are also appropriate if the injured worker is able to earn something, but not all of their wages during the period of temporary disability.

Permanent disability is due 14 days after the last temporary disability payment. There are late penalties if the permanent disability payments are not paid on time. There are all sorts of rules when permanent disability might become due.

Employees can be adjudged both permanently disabled and teinporarily disabled. Think about it. Different injuries and effects from different injuries can produce different results.

Disability benefits depend on the disability rating assigned to the injured workers injury. The formulas used to determine exactly what an injured worker should receive in temporary or permanent disability benefits are complex and must be calculated to a skilled workers compensation lawyer.

Late fees for disability benefits are generally 10%. All of this information assumes the employer is not continuing to pay the employee wages under a salary continuation plan.

As is always the case with the law, there are many exceptions. For instance, employees of certain state institutions must be paid disability benefits the first day they are injured at work if the injury is the result of a criminal act.

What doctor(s) do I see if I was injured at work?

The doctors you will see if you are injured at work depends on whether your employer promptly sends you to their own clinic, whether you chose to see your own doctors you may have to pay for, whether your workers compensation case is disputed, whether there are the needs for second opinions, or your injury case goes through a panel of doctors.

Because your physical and mental health is more important than anything else, you are strongly cautioned to speak to an experienced workers compensation attorney at 1- 877-525-0700.

How much does it cost, and do I pay to hire a workers compensation lawyer?

The fee a lawyer can charge to represent an injured worker in a workers compensation case is regulated by the workers compensation appeal board. Fees of 12.5% to 15% are common. Some lawyers may charge 10%.

The fee your workers compensation lawyer receives must be approved by the workers compensation appeals board. It will be separately described in the workers compensation compromise and release form.

Just to be clear, our firm only takes workers compensation cases on a contingency. We advance all case costs. If we do not win the workers compensation case you are not liable for attorney fees.

What is the difference between a disputed and undisputed workers compensation case?

The fact that a workers compensation case is disputes is not unusual or a surprise to labor lawyers and workers compensation lawyers. You need to consult with a workers compensation lawyer to fully understand how a disputed versus undisputed workers compensation case will affect your particular workers compensation case. Some issues will be which doctors you see for treatment and whether you go to an independent medical examination or agreed medical examination versus the treating doctor's conclusions being accepted.

Can I continue to work if I file a workers compensation claim?

Employers are not supposed to retaliate against an employee if they file a workers compensation claim. Ifthey do, please contact our firm at 1-877-525-0700 to discuss your remedies.

The biggest issue that comes up with injured workers who are still employed is to what extent will the workers compensation doctors allow the injured worker to work. Presuming the workers compensation doctor allow the injured worker to work the next question is what sort of restrictions has the workers compensation doctor prescribed? If the employer can accommodate the employee with the restrictions the workers compensation doctor places o the employee the injured worker can work while he is healing.

Questions about reasonable accommodations, whether work injuries qualify as disabilities, or should be covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are best discussed with one of our labor lawyers. In addition, we are available to discuss situations in which the employer is refusing to allow the injured worker to_ work until they are 100% healed, or is claiming now that the medical restrictions are permanent the employer does not want to accommodate the employee's medical restrictions for the long-term.

How long do I have to file a workers compensation claim?

We will not answer this question online because the purpose is not to give legal advice that might be misconstrued. We will say we are available to discuss work injuries that were reported and/or medically treated more than a year ago even if the workers compensation claim was not filed. We are also available to discuss situations in which a workers compensation claim was opened years ago and it appears there has been a reinjury or the need for additional medical treatment.

What if I never filed a workers compensation claim?

We are available at 1-877-525-0700 to discuss situations in which the employee received medical treatment while still employed, but never filed a workers compensation claim. We are also available to discuss any interest in filing a workers compensation claim.

Can I receive workers compensation benefits for the rest of my life?

The length of time workers compensation benefits can be paid varies depending on the injury. Settlements of workers compensation claims can involve lump sum payouts or payments for extended periods of time.

Workers compensation payouts can include the costs of future medical treatment and special expenses that exist due to a continuing medical problem.

Workers compensation benefits, in general, as discussed above, are based upon disability ratings. Higher disability ratings lead to higher payouts. The part of one's body and how that part of their body is used in employment is also important in determining the value and long-term nature of any workers compensation benefits.

If you have suffered a serious injury that is likely to result in workers compensation benefits paid the rest of your life, a large lump sum settlement, questions about how much medical treatment the workers compensation insurance company will pay into the future you must hire a qualified workers compensation attorney to assist you with your claim.

How is a workers compensation case decided?

The vast majority of all workers compensation claims are settled. Following a settlement there is what is called a, "Compromise and Release" which is a contract about the terms of the workers compensation settlement. The Compromise & Release (aka C&R) must be approved by the workers compensation board. Generally compromises and releases are easily approved by the workers compensation board, especially when properly walked through by an attorney.

If a workers compensation case does not settle there can be a trial before the workers compensation board. Trials can involve liability. Sometimes questions come up about whether a medical condition was caused by a workplace injury or something else. Sometimes there are even issues of apportionment about which employer caused the workplace injury. There can even be trials about whether certain liens for medical treatment are reasonable and whether certain medical treatment was reasonable.

Workers compensation trials are before an administrative law judge. Workers compensation trials are not decided by a jury.

A workers compensation trial takes place day by day, not necessarily consecutive days.

What do I do if my employer refuses to take me back after I am finally released by the doctors after my workers compensation injury?

Issues of reinstatement following a workers compensation leave are subject matters for discussion between the injured worker and the workers compensation lawyer. When an employer refuses to reinstate an employee who has filed a workers compensation leave the following questions come up:

  • How long was the employee on leave due to the workers compensation injury?
  • Was the employee eligible for Family Medical Leave (CFRA) known as California Family Rights Act Leave (CFRA) in California?
  • Is there a legal basis for claiming the medical effects of the work injury constitute a disability under the Fair Employment and Housing Act of the nature for which the general population is inf01med should be reasonably accommodated as required by the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act)?
  • Can the employer make a case that the employee's position was eliminated during the period of time employee was on a work injury leave?
  • Is the employer's refusal to reinstate the employee retaliation because they pursued workers compensation benefits including either filing a workers compensation claim, receiving medical treatment paid for in the workers compensation system, or settling a workers compensation claim?
  • Is it realistic the employer can allow the employee to work in their former job due to the employee's workplace restrictions?
  • Is the employee capable of doing a new job available at the employer they can do with their medical restrictions?

Does my employer have to take me back to work if I have restrictions?

Employers have to make efforts to reinstate employees with medical restrictions. Considerable questions arise.
  • How long are the medical restrictions for?
  • Is there a chance the employee will be exposed for further injury if they work with medical restrictions
  • Is there a possibility people or property will be damaged if the employee works with medical restrictions?
  • Do the medical restrictions impact the employee's ability to do their job?
  • Are the medical restrictions exaggerated by a doctor?
  • Overall, what amount of undue hardship will the employer experience if they reinstate the employee with restrictions?
  • Is the injured worker entitled to leave under FMLA/CFRA or disability discrimination laws, or reasonable accommodations under disability discrimination laws?

Does the workers compensation system pay for retraining if I cannot return to my old job?

There have been considerable changes in the workers compensation laws about job retraining. You are advised to speak to an experienced workers compensation lawyer about whether job retraining can be part of a workers compensation settlement.

If an injured worker can no longer return to their usual line of work that will be a factor in the case value of the workers compensation case.

Does the workers compensation system pay benefits to workers who are killed at work like in a wrongful death case?

Workers compensation benefits do apply for the heirs of employees who are killed in a workplace accident. However, above and beyond ordinary workers compensation benefits there may also be other legal rights in the case of a workplace death.

Workplace accidents that result in death are obviously very serious. Workplace deaths are usually investigated by Cal-OSHA. Serious safety violations are often the cause of a workplace death. Workers compensation cases for workplace deaths typically involve fines and penalties beyond normal workers compensation benefits.

Workers compensation benefits for workplace deaths include funeral and burial costs.

Even if the workplace death was caused by the misconduct of the employee who died it is still possible to recover money in the workers compensation system.

What if my employer does not have workers compensation insurance?

There are several legal remedies in the event the employer did not have workers compensation insurance at the time of the accident. Our office regularly assists injured workers whose employers did not have insurance. Simply call 1-877-525-0700 to speak to a labor lawyer.

What do I do if my workers compensation lawyer won't file a 132a claim for retaliation?

The reasons why your present workers compensation lawyer does not want to file a 132a claim should be examined. If your workers compensation lawyer does not want to file a 132a claim for retaliation merely because it is too much trouble for them or they claim they, "Don't do 132a claims" you may want to seriously consider changing workers compensation lawyers in order to be represented by a workers compensation lawyer who will pursue the full extent of your claim.

If the 132a retaliation claim is legally or factually weak, your workers compensation lawyer may have a basis not to pursue the 132a retaliation claim.

132a retaliation claims do lead to the injured, retaliated worker, receiving additional benefits. They can have a considerable value in the overall workers compensation recovery.

Can I change my workers compensation lawyer?

The law allows you to change workers compensation lawyers. It is not uncommon for injured workers to change their workers compensation lawyer.

We do not advise simply dropping your workers if you do not have another workers compensation lawyer willing to take your case. The old workers compensation lawyer will claim a lien to the portion of awardable attorney fees. The older the workers compensation case, and the longer the old workers compensation lawyer represented you, the more difficult it will be to find a new workers compensation due to lien claims by the old workers compensation lawyer.

In the event of very serious, traumatic injuries you may be involved in ongoing medical treatment and a work place injury that is still being treated. In cases of substantial workplace injuries in which claims go on for five to fifteen years it is understandable that workers" compensation lawyers retire, change jobs, or careers and can no longer represent a client. In those circumstances, we will do what we can to make sure you will be represented if you call us at 1-877-525-0700. In general, we are more than willing to talk to any prospective workers compensation clients who want to change attorney.

If I change workers compensation lawyers do I have to pay both workers compensation lawyers?

Under California law a client of a licensed attorney generally only has to pay one contingency fee. What this means is if the workers compensation appeals board approves a fee of 15% that is supposed to be shared by both workers compensation lawyers (the old one and the new one). As you might expect, there are exceptions.

Under California case law, not specific to workers compensation, there is case law that states a client cannot fire their lawyer in an attempt to avoid paying any contingency fee. Additionally, if a California legal client of an attorney working on a contingency purposefully makes it impossible for his attorney to remain on the case in an attempt to avoid paying him and hires another lawyer the client may be liable for two contingency fees.

Situations in which clients would have to pay two separate contingency fees because they fired their old lawyer would be very unusual. Because they would be so unusual, it is likely an appeal would follow if the client was ordered to pay two contingency fees to two separate lawyers who worked on the case at different times. Most likely the results of the appeal would depend on how bad the client's conduct was, whether the client was trying to game or take advantage of the contingency system, how long, and how much work either lawyer put into the case. In general, courts are protective of clients against their attorneys. However, courts are equally as protective over anybody who has been openly screwed in an intentional manner. Appeals of workers compensation rulings can be done in the civil court system. Civil courts are courts of equity, and are very much functioning promotes justice and fairness.

Can you give me an idea how much I will get for my workers compensation claim?

Straight answer, no. Not the minute you call, or come into the office.

The value of workers compensation cases depend on the extent of your workplace injury. It also depends on what part of your body is injured and how long it takes you to fully heal. There are many other factors that go into the value of a workers compensation claim.

The value of many workers compensation claims are determined by disability ratings by independent doctors. The process of rating an employee's disability occurs once medical treatment has got the medical condition to as stable a place as it will be for some time.

The value of a workers compensation case is also influenced by whether the workers compensation case is a disputed or undisputed case.

Willful safety violations, OSHA fines, and accidents in which third-party non-employers contributed also factor into the value of a workers compensation case. Retaliation by the employer for the pursuit of workers compensation benefits also increases the value of the workers compensation case.

What is the difference between a permanent disability and temporary disability in the workers compensation system?

As the definitions suggest, a temporary disability is something that goes away. A permanent disability is a medical condition in the workers compensation system that never fully goes away.

The value of a workers compensation case is influenced based upon whether a disability is permanent or non-permanent. However, very long-term nonpermanent disabilities are serious and can create value for a workers compensation case.

Can you explain what the difference is between partial permanent disability and complete disability, and what about complete temporary disability?

Partial permanent disability can exist when the injured part of the body will always work less than it did before the injury, but it still can be used to some extent. For example, an injured worker might suffer from a back injury. The back injury may prevent them from lifting more than 30 pounds, but the medical rehabilitation got them back to being able to lift less than 30 pounds so they are permanently restricted in a partial manner.

Complete disability has several different meanings. One meaning is the worker is completely disabled and cannot work. Another meaning of complete disability is the worker is completely disabled from a particular job. A third meaning of complete disability is they will never be able to use a body part again, or enough to do a job. For example, somebody might have an arm but they will never be able to move it.

Complete temporary disability would involve an injury to a body part in which there is a period of time the body part cannot be used at all, or for work. Ifan employee breaks their leg or hip they may be completely disabled from walking or lifting for eight weeks, but after eight weeks the condition gradually heals and ceases to be a complete disability.

What does it mean to be permanent and stationary in the workers compensation system?

Permanent and stationary is a te1m used in the workers compensating system to describe a medical injury that has healed as much as it might ever heal, or at least as much as it might heal for a long time. Stationary means the medical condition is not likely to dramatically change in the near future.

A permanent and stationary status exists when the injury has been given sufficient time to heal, physical therapy has achieved its likely benefits, any surgical procedures have occurred, and doctors have generally ruled out the likelihood of additional surgical or medical procedures that would help to improve the medical condition the injured worker suffers from.

Our workers compensation lawyers and labor lawyers take cases throughout Southern California. In order to serve injured workers we may be willing to meet you at your place of residence, or the medical facility you are being treated in such as a hospital. Our labor lawyers maintain offices in Sherman Oaks, downtown Los Angeles, Oxnard, Bakersfield, Tustin, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose. We recently had an office in Ontario in order to serve San Bernardino, and expect to have another by the time you are reading this post. For workers compensation cases we also have offices in Encino and Hollywood. Call 1-877-525-0700 to speak to our labor law firm.


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