A Santa Rosa workers’ comp attorney explains how injured employees in Sonoma County benefit from workers’ compensation
The California Workers’ Compensation System (informally known as “workers’ comp”), is a state law that protects the right of employees to receive compensation for work-related injuries. With few exceptions, an employee who experiences an on-the-job injury is entitled to compensation regardless of whether the employer, the employee or someone else was at fault. A workers’ comp lawyer in Santa Rosa can help Sonoma County employees maximize the compensation they receive.
The Workers’ Comp Bargain
California courts have explained that workers’ compensation laws represent a “bargain” between the interests of employers and those of employees. The employee is relieved of the burden of proving that a work-related injury was the employer’s fault. In most cases, the employee is entitled to recover compensation even if his or her own carelessness contributed to the injury.
Placing the burden on the employer to provide compensation for work injuries serves two goals. First, it encourages employers to provide a safe workplace, thus minimizing the number of injuries that employees will suffer. Second, workers’ compensation helps society by assuring that employees do not become destitute during the time they spend recovering from their injuries.
In exchange for covering nearly all work injuries regardless of fault, the “bargain” limits the compensation that an employer must pay. While the purpose of personal injury compensation is to restore an injury victim to the condition the victim was in before the accident, the purpose of workers’ compensation is to assure that injured employees’ medical expenses are paid, that they receive some income while they recover, that they return to work if possible, and that they receive compensation for permanent injuries.
In limited and unusual circumstances, the fault of either the employer or the employee, as well as that of a third party, can have an impact on workers’ compensation. A workers’ comp lawyer in Santa Rosa can recognize and explain the exceptions to the general rule when they apply.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ Compensation benefits are not awarded by juries. Instead, they are based on payment schedules that are established pursuant to California law. Benefits may include:
- Medical costs, including doctor’s bills, physical therapy expenses, medication, and travel costs that relate to treatment needed to recover from the injury.
- Temporary disability benefits that act as a partial replacement for lost income while the employee recovers from an injury.
- Permanent disability benefits that compensate employees for injuries from which they will never recover.
- Supplemental job displacement benefits that pay for job retraining when an employee is eligible for permanent disability benefits and cannot return to former employment.
- Death benefits for the family of an employee who dies from a work-related injury.
Employees are entitled to increased benefits if their employer retaliates against them for sustaining a work-related injury, making a workers’ compensation claim, or exercising other rights that are protected by the Workers’ Compensation System. A Santa Rosa workers’ comp attorney can help employees pursue extra compensation when they were fired or experience other forms of retaliation after reporting an injury at work.
Physical injuries sustained on the job are nearly always covered by workers’ comp. Amputated fingers while using a power saw, back injury (sprains) from lifting, broken bones from a fall, eye injuries from flying shards, and burns from chemical splashes are common examples of covered injuries.
Traffic accident injuries are covered if the accident occurs during the course of employment. For example, drivers may receive benefits when they are involved in a collision while making deliveries.
Repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, are covered by worker’s comp. Hearing loss caused by occupational exposure to loud noises is another example of a work-related injury that may develop gradually.
Occupational diseases, including respiratory diseases caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, may be covered by workers’ compensation. To prove an occupational disease claim, a workers’ compensation attorney representing a Santa Rosa employee will need to obtain expert evidence to prove that the disease was job-related.
Mental health injuries caused by stress at work are sometimes, but not always, covered by workers’ comp. A Santa Rosa workers’ compensation attorney can help employees identify mental health conditions for which they may be entitled to compensation.
Help for Work-Related Injuries
Employers and their insurance companies often decide not to dispute the payment of benefits for an obvious work-related injury from which an employee promptly recovers. In some cases, however, Santa Rosa employers argue that an injury is not employment-related, that an employee’s injury is less severe than the employee claims, or that the employee is deliberately delaying his or her return to work.
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at Santa Rosa’s Kneisler & Schondel is available to help injured employees in Sonoma County and surrounding areas in Northern California. Whether compensation is disputed or an employee simply needs advice about filing a claim, Kneisler & Schondel is the firm that injured employees count on to help them receive compensation for work-related injuries. Call us now at (707) 542-5132 or complete our online contact form and we’ll connect with you.