Need to Hire San Diego Workers Compensation Attorney for Your Work Injury?
If you get injured at work, you have a right to claim for worker’s compensation in California. However, you need a qualified and experienced San Diego workers compensation attorney to increase your chances of being compensated. Without an attorney, some employers can take you rounds or compensate you less than is required by law.
Workers’ compensation is a federal government-mandated program that offers benefits to workers who get ill or injured in the course of their duties. It is basically a disability insurance program for employees, offering health care benefits, cash benefits, or both to any worker who suffers illness or injury resulting from his or her job.
California has a no-fault worker’s compensation system, something that benefits both employers and employees. This means employees cannot sue their employers in court and at the same time, the workers aren’t required to prove that their employer was at fault for the injuries inflicted on them.
Steps to Take After a Work Injury
What Are My Rights Under San Diego California Work Comp Laws?
Below are benefits entitled to any injured worker in the state of California. It is important to note that all cash and non-cash benefits received are exempted from tax:
•Medical treatment costs: All medical expenses related to the injury are supposed to be covered by the worker’s compensation program. This includes the cost of medical evaluations, treatments as well as surgery. Additionally, medical aid devices, prescription of drugs, and all transportation costs and also covered by the program.
•Temporary disability payments: These are payments made to an injured employee for the time they have stayed away from work as a result of an injury. According to California worker’s compensation law, you are supposed to be paid two-thirds of your average weekly salary. An employer can decide to pay you a maximum of two years after the date of the injury or up to five years. This is with exception of people suffering from HIV, hepatitis B or C, amputation, severe burns, chronic lung diseases, or pulmonary fibroids.
•Permanent disability payments: These are payments made to employees whose injuries are severe to the extent that they can’t return to their former jobs or be able to work again for that matter. The amount you will be paid depends on the permanent disability rating. The rating often varies based on the type of injury sustained, occupation of the worker, age and restrictions of the doctor.
•Vocational restraining costs: Also referred to as Supplemental Displacement Benefits, vocational retraining costs are offered employees are unable to return to their previous jobs and their employer failed to provide them with an alternative or modified employment.
•Life pension payments: You are entitled to this payment if you have been severely disabled, say between 70 – 99% of the permanent disability rating.
•Death benefits: This is money paid out to spouses or dependents of a worker killed while engaging in a work-related task. The payment also covers burial expenses.
What Mistakes Could Compromise My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Many people fail to get compensation after a work injury due to a lack of proper advice. Working with a San Diego worker’s compensation attorney will ensure that you follow the right procedure from the start to the end.
Here are some of the mistakes that could compromise your worker’s compensation claim:
1. Failing to report the injury immediately
You should report the injury to your employer immediately after the accident. There could be instructions in your employee manual on how to report the accident. In case there are none, the best thing is to let everyone around know about the accident including your co-workers, supervisor, and HR.
2. Filing your worker’s compensation late
Simply telling your employer about the injury is not enough. You should obtain a DWC-1 claim form and fill it out within one business day after reporting the injury. The form should be filled out and returned back to the employer within 30 days of the injury. Filing your claim late can deny you a chance to be compensated.
3. Allowing your employer to decide on your physician
According to California worker’s compensation laws, an employer has a legal right to choose a physician to a physician who will diagnose and treat your injuries. But what many people don’t know is that they can choose a different doctor after the first visit. You should request a list of preapproved doctors who specialize in work-related injuries from your employer. A San Diego worker’s compensation attorney can also help you with this.
4. Not following through with treatment
It is a fact that no one likes going to the doctor every now and then, but it is important to attend all appointments scheduled by your medical provider. The insurance company through their lawyers can decide to file an application to hold your wage loss benefits if they find out that you are not following through with treatment.
5. Not consulting a San Diego worker’s comp attorney
Injured employees are often reluctant to contact a San Diego workers compensation attorney regarding their claims. Some fear that they will end up spending a lot of money and getting less compensation. Although it is a fact that a layer will be entitled to a portion of the settlement, it is also a fact that an experienced San Diego workers compensation attorney can significantly increase the compensation amount.
Who Qualifies for Workers’ Comp in California?
In California, all employers and businesses are required by law to purchase worker’s compensation insurance, as long as they have an employee. The insurance is supposed to cover any losses related to occupational injuries and illnesses. In this case, the employee doesn’t have to prove negligence or fault. Every worker in California is covered by worker’s compensation insurance apart from independent contractors.
If you get injured in a workplace accident or contract a disease due to exposure to hazardous substances at work, you may qualify for worker’s compensation benefits. But for you to receive the benefits, you must prove that you are covered and that the injury was caused by a work-related accident.
How Are San Diego Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Paid?
As mentioned earlier, some people hesitate to hire a worker’s compensation lawyer fearing the amount of fee they will be charged. But the truth is that the benefits of hiring a San Diego workers compensation attorney outweigh the benefits of not hiring one.
You do not necessarily have to pay out of pocket when hiring a San Diego workers compensation attorney. Most lawyers charge what’s known as a contingency fee – a percentage of the total benefits the lawyer will help you receive. Most lawyers will charge anything from 15 to 33 percent contingency fees.
The first meeting with the lawyer is what will basically determine how much you will be charged. A lawyer will take a look at your case and decide whether it is complicated enough to require legal service or if it is a case that you can handle on your own.
Below are some of the things that a judge will consider when deciding whether a fee is appropriate or not:
• The complexity of the case
• Time and effort put in by your attorney
• Time limitations on your case, if any
• Rates traditionally charged by lawyers in your area
• A lawyer’s qualifications and skills in executing his mandate
Caps on attorney’s fees
For the purposes of protecting workers, there are regulations mean to restrict the amount lawyers can charge in worker’s compensation cases.
Legal costs are usually separate in your worker’s compensation case. They are expenses that lawyers incur in pursuing your case. This includes expenses like filing documents, copying medical records, and hiring expert witnesses to testify at the hearing.
At the end of the day, you will be required to pay these costs. But in case you don’t have the money upfront, some lawyers will agree to use their own cash and deduct them when you receive the settlement.
Is it Worth Getting a San Diego Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
If you have suffered a work-related injury, you may wonder whether it is necessary to hire a San Diego workers compensation attorney or not. There are several factors that can help you know whether to hire a lawyer or not. This includes the severity of the injury, actions of your employer, and the overall complexity of the case.
Here are some of the situations where you will need to hire a compensation attorney:
• Your employer denies the claim: sometimes an employer may decide to reject your compensation claim thinking that you won’t appeal. Hiring a San Diego workers compensation attorney can increase your chances of getting compensated.
• The settlement offered by a judge doesn’t cover all your costs: A worker’s compensation judge can sometimes order a settlement that’s not reflective of all your costs and expenses. The best thing to do here is to hire a worker’s compensation attorney to appeal the decision.
• Your employer retaliates by firing you: You can also involve the service of a worker’s compensation attorney if your employer has demoted you, fired you, reduced your pay, slashed your hours, or discriminated against you in any way.
How Can a San Diego CA Workers’ Compensation Attorney Help?
A worker’s compensation attorney can help you in many ways. Here are some of the ways she can help you:
1. Mount up a strong medical evidence
Inadequate medical evidence is one of the major reasons why most worker’s compensation claims end up being rejected. An attorney can help develop evidence by:
• Collecting medical records
• Recommending or arranging treatment with different physicians
• Obtaining medical opinions from expert witnesses
• Carrying out depositions of medical experts
2. Negotiating settlements
When it comes to negotiating with an employer’s insurance company with regards to the settlement, a worker’s compensation attorney is best placed to determine the right amount based on the work involved and many other factors.
3. Represent you at the hearing
The other role of a worker’s comp attorney is to take dispositions of witnesses, conduct medical research, request for medical, and ensure that all the required documents are submitted on time. The attorney will also be present in court on your behalf whenever asked by the judge.
4. Offer advice on third-party claims and other benefits
Besides worker’s comp claim, a lawyer can guide you on the eligibility for other potential benefits such as wage reimbursement, vocational rehabilitation assistance, state short0term disability, social security disability, and long-term disability insurance benefits.
Can I Sue My Employer for Denying Workers’ Comp?
Some employers won’t cooperate when it comes to compensating their employees for work-related injuries. There are many reasons why this may happen. One reason could be that the injury happened outside the workplace. Another reason could be that you filed the injury claim late against the law requirements.
Regardless of the reason, you can still hire a worker’s comp attorney and sue your employer for denying you a worker’s compensation. You can literally content any reason for denial of your worker’s compensation.
Below are other reasons why you can sue your employer for denying a worker’s comp:
• If the employer doesn’t have a worker’s compensation insurance as mandated by law
• If the employer failed to file your comp claim on time
• For behaving in an inherently and reckless manner
• For international torts such as battery, sexual offenses or assault
Will Workers’ Comp Offer Me a Settlement?
You will have to decide whether to negotiate a settlement on an accepted or denied claim. There are basically two types of settlements namely; disputed claim settlement and claims disposition settlement. A disputed claims claim settlement is where you decide to resolve the issue with the insurance company of the employer over the claim condition.
On the other hand, a claims disposition agreement is where you waive all your rights to sue the employer in exchange for a lump-sum settlement. The lump-sum is exclusive of medical treatment.
Get a Free Consultation with a Workers’ Comp Attorney in San Diego CA
Have you suffered work-related injuries or illness and wondered how to go about filing for compensation? Well, hiring an experienced San Diego workers compensation attorney is the first step towards getting justice. Book a free consultation today and increase your chances of getting compensated.