When you are injured on the job, it may be scary to think about what this will do to your income and whether you will be able to get the necessary medical treatment. If it's a very serious injury and you're not sure you will ever be able to do your job again, it can be overwhelming to cope with.
Whether your injuries are due to a work accident, or an injury that took time to build up from the daily duties of your job (like a repetitive stress injury or back injury from performing your job day in and day out) your employer's workers' compensation insurance offers benefits to you as a result of your injury. Since the workers' compensation process is a claims process and involves a lot of time to sift through, many people seek the help of a workers' compensation attorney to get them the benefits they deserve.
Here are the typical benefits offered in a workers' compensation claim:
1) Income while you are out of work
Workers' compensation offers modest replacement income, usually at a portion of your pre-injury wages, while you are unable to work due to your injury. If you are completely unable to work, you can receive temporary total disability (TTD) payments. If you can do some work while you recover from your injury, you can receive temporary partial disability (TPD) payments. You are eligible if your wages while you recover are below a maximum limit.
• Temporary disability
Temporary disability payments replace a portion of your lost wages if your injury keeps you out of work temporarily. You are eligible if your doctor says you cannot return to work for more than three days, or if you are hospitalized overnight due to your injury. If your employer doesn't offer you other work that pays your usual wages that you're able to do with your injuries, you may qualify for temporary disability payments under California workers' compensation law. The law requires your first temporary disability payment to be paid to you within 14 days after your employer learns you were injured and your doctor says your injury prevents you from working.
• Permanent disability
If your injury is serious or a type that you cannot completely recover from, and you cannot ever return to work, you may be entitled to a monetary award under permanent disability. Permanent disability means the injury has taken away your ability to compete in the labor market compared with uninjured workers. Depending on how limited you are after your injury, the rate of the permanent disability payment varies. Your benefit payment is based on your wages when you were injured. It is also calculated according to your occupation and age.
2) Medical treatment and follow-up care
You are entitled to your immediate medical treatment following the accident or injury, and all related follow-ups. Workers' compensation also covers the cost of your prescriptions and mileage to the hospital or clinic for your medical care. Examples of follow-up care that could be covered includes required surgeries and physical therapy.
3) Vocational rehab or training
If your injury has left you with the inability to ever perform the same job you were working again, you may be eligible for training to help you get a job in another field or vocation. During the time you are in training or vocational rehab, you can qualify for replacement income, similar to payments under temporary disability. Instead of vocational rehab or training, your employer could offer a position that involves different work that you are able to do after your injury.
If you have questions about your claim or feel you are not getting the benefits you are entitled to, an attorney can review your claim and help you stay afloat during this difficult time. Many lawyers handle workers' compensation claims on a contingency basis, which means you don't have to pay anything out-of-pocket to hire a lawyer. They will receive a percentage of the monetary award you get when the claim is resolved. You will not be charged separately for the time attorneys spend working on your case.