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California Workers' Compensation

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What Is Workers’ Compensation in California?


When an employee gets injured at work, employers are liable to pay for the expenses incurred due to the injury.


These injuries can either be a single consequence of a recent accident or an accumulated trauma sustained from years of working in the company (i.e., diseases acquired from work, back injury from stressful lifting jobs, etc.).

If your employer has an insurance provider, they will forward your request to the firm.

The employee should be compensated for the following:

  1. Reimbursement of medical bills

  2. Payment of lost wages from temporary disability

  3. Reimbursement for injuries that permanently affect an individual’s capacity to work

  4. Life pensions for severe cases

  5. Retraining for when an employee cannot return to their previous job

  6. Death benefits


California has a “no-fault” policy that favors the workers who report work accidents. This means that the workers do not need to prove that the injuries are indeed job-related. However, employees cannot take their employers to court.


When Do I Have A Workers’ Compensation Claim?


California’s “no-fault” policy is meant to be equally beneficial to workers and their employers. Choosing to believe the injured party outright eliminates the lengthy and complicated process of taking things to court. In turn, it also benefits the employer to avoid a trial.

However, this also means that the compensation process is entirely left to both parties after the incident. If your employer does not give you compensation for a reported work-related injury, you have grounds for a Workers’ Comp Claim.

  • You should also note that if an employer retaliates against you for reporting an accident and requesting benefits (i.e., bullying, demotion, hostility, and firing), you might have a separate case for Employer Retaliation or Wrongful Termination in California.


If any of the scenarios above happens to you, consult a California Labor Lawyer immediately. They will know how to handle not only your Workers’ Compensation concerns, but also find possible violations that your employer has incurred in the aftermath of your accident or diagnosis.


What Are The Requirements For A Workers’ Compensation Claim in California?


If your employer readily gives you compensation after a work-related injury, there will be no need to find a California Employment Law Attorney.


However, when they refuse or fail to compensate or reimburse, you have to go through a hearing and prove that wrongdoing has occurred.

Here are a few things to remember before filing a complaint against your employer:


You Are An Employee


To start, you have to prove that you have a working relationship with the defendant. You and your attorney can easily prove this by showing them an employment contract or pay stubs.

For Example:

If your job involves delivering packages and you were injured for no cause other than lifting heavy boxes, you cannot sue the owner of the building you were delivering to. In this case, the one liable for paying you Workers’ Compensation benefits will be the company who hired you to do deliveries.


The Injury Is Work-Related


Unlike the “no-fault” policy that applies when you report an injury, taking things to a judge means you will have to prove your injuries are indeed directly work-related. Remember that the reason why you’re filing a complaint is to establish wrongdoing was done.

So, you have to prove that you were qualified for reimbursements and benefits that your employer had chosen to refuse or ignore. You can present medical records, footage, photos, or find witnesses.


What Type of Evidence Do I Need?


As stated in the previous section, you need to prove that you’re an employee and you’ve sustained injuries from the work you do. Here are the following kinds of evidence you might want to start collecting:

  • Your Employment Contract. Your employment contract is a detailed explanation and breakdown of your employment position. While they don’t imply that you are in imminent danger, they can be used to point out hazardous tasks that you are required to do (i.e., heavy lifting, handling hazardous materials, operating or in proximity of dangerous heavy equipment, etc.).

  • If you have an implied contract instead of a written one, consider finding other documentation to prove that you are employed by them and are assigned tasks that might be hazardous. Instruction sheets and emails, pay stubs, and receipts can work as supplementary evidence.

  • Your pay stubs, time cards, and other employee records. Whether in paper or electronic, these documents can help you prove your employment relationship with the defendant. These can also be proof of unnecessary or retaliatory deductions and missing Workers’ Compensation Benefits.

  • These can also be used as proof of the wages you have lost due to your injuries. If you need to miss work or reduce your capacity to do work-related tasks, then your pay stubs can be a good measure of the sum of income you have missed out on.

  • Medical Records and Receipts. Medical records are a way to show the seriousness of the injury sustained, while your bills can be used as proof of how much your employer will need to reimburse you for.

  • Your previous medical records will also come up and will be investigated during the process. This is to make sure that you don’t have a prior medical history that might point to your injury as unrelated to your work-related tasks.

  • Photo and Video Evidence. After seeking medical attention, prioritize documenting the aftermath of the incident. You can take photos of faulty equipment, site location hazards, and the injuries on you. You can also find CCTV footage of the moment as it happened.

  • Emails and Work-Related Chat Rooms. While your email and text correspondences aren’t proof of the injury itself, your Labor Lawyer can use them to show that you were given orders or instructions to do what ultimately led to your injury.

  • You can also emails and chats that show retaliation (i.e., bullying, unnecessary scolding, discrimination, abusive treatment, etc.).

  • Eyewitness Testimonies. When your claim proceeds to a hearing, witnesses might be called in to testify. These eyewitnesses can be your co-workers, bystanders, or the people involved in the investigation of your report.

  • Remember that California Labor Law also protects your co-workers. They should be able to testify in a hearing (even against your employer) without fear of being on the receiving end of Workplace Retaliation or Wrongful Termination.


As a general rule, the more credible evidence you have, the better for your case. However, it is understandable if you don’t know where to start. The stress brought by the accident itself can draw your attention from keeping tabs on some evidence. A California Employment Attorney can help you find documents, interview witnesses, and further investigate to prove your case.


How Long Will A Worker’s Compensation Claim Take?


Short answer: it depends.

You can, however, get an idea by knowing the factors that contribute to the length of a Workers’ Compensation Trial:

  • The number of disputes can influence how long the hearing is going to take. If you and the defendant simply cannot agree on a certain amount, it might take less time than a dispute on whether or not your injury was work-related.

  • Whether it can be resolved in a day can significantly add or reduce the amount of time spent on a workers’ compensation claim.

    • If you cannot resolve the issue within a single hearing date, the judge can schedule a second hearing in the next two (2) to three (3) months. If it still can’t be resolved by the second hearing, another two to three-month extension is added, and so on.

  • You will not be informed of the decision on the day of the last hearing. Even if the judge deems it unnecessary for another hearing date, you will not know the outcome while you’re in hearing. What happens is, your California Labor Lawyer will be informed of the decision approximately ninety (90) days after the last hearing.


What’s The Process Of A Worker’s Compensation Claim In California?


Knowing that you will have to attend a hearing—especially when this is a first for you—is a little intimidating. Not knowing what to expect is especially what makes clients nervous. If you consulted with a California Labor Law Attorney, you might already have some idea of what’s going to happen.

If you haven’t, here are a few things to anticipate in a Workers’ Compensation Claim Hearing in California:

  • You will not appear “in-court.” The hearing will be conducted within the privacy of a small room, without a jury or audience. A judge and a court reporter will join you, the defendant or their representative, and both your attorneys. No other parties may be allowed to enter.

  • You need to testify. With the help of your California Workers’ Compensation Attorney, you will be asked questions that can clue in on what went down. Your attorney will ask you questions that will help prove that your injury was indeed work-related and that the defendant’s refusal to comply is a violation.

  • Your medical records, receipts, and rehabilitation costs are all going to be presented as evidence of your suffering. Medical professionals don’t testify in workers’ compensation hearings, but you can get affidavits, certifications, or other written declarations that your case might need.

  • It’s important that you brief this portion of the hearing with your attorney. Direct testimonies are not just an avenue for conversation; it is part of your attorney’s winning strategy to present the facts in favor of you.

  • The defense attorney will question you. Remember that the other attorney will their turn questioning you, and they will ask questions to weaken or discredit your case. They might bring in previous health records and try to prove that you have pre-existing medical conditions that caused the injury.

  • This is also another reason why your own attorney should brief you before the hearing. The defense attorney will always ask you questions that are in favor of the defendant’s case. You should be prepared for questions that might catch you off-guard.

  • Witnesses might be called in. As mentioned in an earlier section, witness testimonies might be used as evidence during your hearing. These testimonies are especially important if the documented proof that’s been presented so far has not sufficed.


What Are The Deadlines I Should Remember?


From the day of your work-related injury, there are several key deadlines you should remember:

  • Reporting to your employer. The first step of a Workers’ Compensation is to inform your employer of a recent accident or diagnosis. They should be notified within thirty (30) days, starting from the day you sustained injury.

    • After you’ve sent a notice, your employer should promptly ask for the details and documentation of your injury. If they have an insurance provider, they can pass these on to the firm.

  • Reporting a work-related ailment. Cumulative trauma and diseases acquired from working at your place of employment are different from work-related accidents. This is mainly because you are not immediately aware of the symptoms and can’t always be diagnosed as early as you’d like.

    • In this case, the deadline is within thirty (30) days after discovering the illness or cumulative trauma.

    • Also note: cumulative trauma should be based on a medical professional’s assessment. Consult a doctor to make sure that your injury is directly caused (over time) by the type of work you do.

  • Filing a claim against your employer. If your employer fails or refuses to compensate you for your work-related injury, you must file a Workers’ Compensation Claim within a year, counting from the day of the accident or diagnosis.

    • If a government agency employs you, the statute of limitations is even shorter. You will only have six (6) months counting from the day of the accident or discovery.

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