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What workers’ compensation benefits are available in California?

Employees in California who suffer an on-the-job injury may be reimbursed for medical care and even some missed wages.

In 2012, the California legislature passed a bill that was intended to reduce the cost of medical services rendered. According to The Sacramento Bee, the changes appear to have worked. However, critics claim that the measure has actually denied disabled workers from received the care they need for their work-related injuries or illnesses.

Regardless of whether the state will revisit the issue, California workers should know what benefits are available to them should they suffer an on-the-job injury. Further, they should have an understanding of how the claims process works.

Who qualifies for benefits?

As the State of California Department of Industrial Relations points out, any company that has at least one employee is required to carry workers' compensation benefits. These benefits are extended to people who either get hurt due to a work-related incident, or they suffer an injury or illness due to repeated exposure. For example, someone who is exposed to a toxic substance repeatedly at work and falls ill should qualify for compensation.

What are the benefits?

The DIR lists five ways an employee may receive benefits, and those are the following:

  • Temporary disability: This enables a worker to receive payments for wages lost while recovering from an injury.
  • Permanent disability: These payments are available to someone who is unable to completely recover.
  • Medical benefits: The insurance policy should pay for the medical bills that the injury or illness creates.
  • Supplemental job displacement: Someone who fails to recover may be unable to go back to work, but this benefit will train him or her for a new job.
  • Death benefits: In the event of a fatal accident, a worker's family may receive benefits.

In terms of lost wages, temporary disability will pay for two-thirds of a worker's pre-tax earnings. A physician will have to attest to the person's inability to work. The physician will also be the one to state when the worker is ready to return.

Permanent disability indemnity, as the DIR notes, is determined based on a formula that includes the worker's age, job and, depending on when the injury occurred, the worker's inability to earn future wages.

How do I file a claim?

Anyone who has been injured during the course of work should immediately contact his or her supervisor. The California DIR states that failing to report the injury within 30 days could result in a loss of benefits. The employer should give the worker a claim form within a day of learning about the incident. Once the form is completed and returned to the employer, the process for obtaining benefits begins.

Filing for workers' compensation benefits in California can be complicated. Anyone who has questions about this issue should consult with an attorney.


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