The Workers’ compensation system allows California employees to obtain payment of medical bills and other compensation for on-the-job injuries. Benefits are paid from insurance that employers are required to maintain for their employees. Worker’s compensation attorneys help employees receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
The rules that govern the payment of workers’ compensation benefits are complex. Employers and their insurance companies often resist paying workers’ compensation claims, or they try to pay less than what the employee is entitled to.
The workers’ compensation lawyers of Kneisler & Schondel help employees in Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Mendocino, and other Northern California counties navigate the bewildering rules that govern on-the-job injury claims. We fight to assure that every injured employee receives full compensation under the laws and regulations that govern work-related injuries in California.
Workers’ compensation claims differ from personal injury claims in significant ways. Personal injury law is based on fault. For example, when a car accident results in an injury, the injury victim must prove that the other driver was at fault as a condition of recovering compensation. That usually means proving that the other driver was negligent and that the driver’s negligence contributed to the victim’s injury.
Proving fault can be difficult and time-consuming when responsibility for an accident is unclear or disputed. When witnesses disagree about the facts, the outcome of a personal injury trial might be uncertain.
The workers’ compensation system does away with the need to prove fault. With limited exceptions, an employee is entitled to compensation for an injury that occurs at work, even if the employee’s own negligence caused or contributed to the injury.
Because fault is rarely an issue, the workers’ compensation system permits a prompt determination of claims with predictable outcomes in the majority of cases. Those determinations are made in an administrative system, not by juries.
Insurance companies nevertheless try to pay as little as possible. They might contend that the injury was not work-related. They might argue that the injury is less serious than the employee claims. A workers’ compensation lawyer can protect an injury victim’s right to receive the full compensation that the law allows.
All California workers, including part-time and temporary employees, are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured at work. Workers who are not legal residents of the United States and some workers who have been classified by their employers as independent contractors can also recover workers’ compensation benefits.
Victims of work-related injuries are entitled to payment of:
- Medical expenses (including treatment, tests, medications, physical therapy, wheelchairs and other equipment, and travel costs)
- Temporary total disability (payments that replace a portion of lost wages while the employee recovers from an injury)
- Permanent partial or total disability (compensation for permanent impairments after maximum healing has been reached)
- Supplemental job displacement benefits (for employees who cannot return to their former employment)
- Death benefits.
Injury victims are also entitled to return to work after their injury heals. It is illegal to fire an employee for sustaining or reporting an injury or for making a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Compensation for permanent disabilities is assessed by comparing the worker’s healthy body before the accident to the worker’s injured body after the accident. The difference, known as a disability rating, is expressed as a percentage that measures how much your disability limits the kind of work you do and your ability to earn a living.
Doctors assign a disability rating using a complex formula. Different doctors often disagree about disability ratings. Insurance companies argue for the lowest possible disability rating. It is essential to have a workers’ compensation attorney review the disability rating to assure that it accurately reflects an employee’s actual disability.
Workers’ compensation covers most injuries that employees sustain at work, including:
- Head injuries, broken bones, and muscle sprains that result from a fall
- Hand and arm injuries, including amputations caused by machinery
- Burns caused by chemical spills
- Eye injuries caused by flying debris
- Crush injuries from falling objects
- Traffic accident injuries (when driving the employer’s delivery truck, for example)
- Back and muscle injuries caused by lifting, pulling, or pushing
- Repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Hearing loss due to excessive noise over a period of time
- Illnesses caused by prolonged exposure to toxic substances
- Certain psychological injuries.
Injured employees should immediately report an injury to their employer. Injury victims should also receive prompt medical care. Make sure to explain how the injury occurred so that your doctor can note in your medical records that the injury is work-related. The injury victim’s next call should be to a workers’ compensation lawyer.
Having the right lawyer is critical when an injured worker needs to fight for compensation and medical care. Experience, a thorough understanding of the law, and a commitment to the rights of working people are essential attributes in a workers’ compensation attorney.
With more than 20 years of experience, Matthew A. Schondel is Northern California’s “go to” attorney when employees are injured on the job. Attorney Schondel is certified as a Workers’ Compensation specialist by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.
If you were injured at work, contact worker’s compensation attorney Matthew A. Schondel for a free consultation. Call Kneisler & Schondel at (707) 542-5132.
Want to know more about your rights to be compensated for a workplace related injury? Contact Kneisler & Schondel now for a free consultation: