What is Worker’s Compensation?
Worker’s Compensation (or workman’s comp) is a crucial part of the stability of our modern day workplace. In California, without a good compensation program in place, worker’s could be left out in the cold after an injury incident.
Workplace Injury in California
If you are on the job 8 hours-a-day 5 days-a-week, there is a definite risk of getting hurt. After all, your job takes up the bulk of your day! Worker’s compensation is an overarching program that gives employees the right to covered medical care or financial relief.
A stronger definition: “Worker’s Comp is a form of insurance that provides compensation medical care for employees who are injured in the course of employment, in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence. While plans differ between jurisdictions, especially in California, provision can be made for weekly payments in place of wages (functioning in this case as a form of disability insurance), compensation for economic loss (past and future), reimbursement or payment of medical and like expenses (functioning in this case as a form of health insurance), and benefits payable to the dependents of workers killed during employment. General damages for pain and suffering, and punitive damages for employer negligence, are generally not available in worker compensation plans.” – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers_compensation
For worker’s compensation to take effect, an injury or illness has to occur during the course of standard employment.
The Catch with Workman’s Comp
As you may have noticed in the above definition, employees are often waved of their right to sue for negligence when participating in a worker’s compensation program. This allows companies to protect themselves from larger more detrimental settlements.
Punitive damages, or those incidences caused by neglect and negligence of an employer, are generally not a part of worker’s compensation cases.
The Importance of State
When it comes to workman’s comp, every state has its own set of rules and statutes.
One of the first things you have to do when considering workman’s comp is recognizing which state you are legally working in. From their, it is critical to acquire a skilled personal injury lawyer familiar with your state’s system.
As with any form of insurance, companies will often try to find any and every reason not to pay you. Sometimes they may be correct under the letter of the law, but to get your fair chance at financial or medical relief you need to come prepared with a competent attorney. At the very least, have one look over the details of your case. Most good attorney’s will provide you with a free legal consultation.
How do I File a Worker's Compensation Claim
Many injured workers asked the question, why hire a work comp lawyer? There are many reasons to hire a workers compensation attorney however I'll try to summarize the most important benefits to hiring a work injury lawyer.
The worker's insurance company will have a work injury attorney assigned to defend them against you and your work comp claim. Their adjusters and work injury lawyers are highly experienced and will generally circle around you. An experienced workers compensation lawyer who only represents injured workers can make sure you are being treated fairly and receive the work comp benefits you deserve if you have been injured on the job.
A local and experienced workers comp attorney can assist you with selecting the right doctor, negotiate with the insurance company and represent you at the Workers Compensation Appeals Board. Most workers comp cases settle before trial, and an experienced attorney can get you the settlement you deserve. If your case goes go to trial, you are going to want an attorney familiar with that court with years of trial experience. Representing yourself is not recommended unless you have years of workers comp experience and knowledge.
Hiring an experienced workers compensation attorney is cheap. A personal injury attorney will charge anywhere from 33% to 50% of your final accident settlement. Worker's comp lawyers generally work for a 15% fee of your final settlement. Because of the attorney's years of knowledge and experience, the lawyer generally pays for himself or herself by the value they bring to the work comp case. If your claim is denied, a work injury attorney can definitely help you.
A reputable and local workers comp lawyer will be familiar with your regional Workers Compensation Appeals Board and their judges. The Appeals Board is the court where your case will be heard. The work injury lawyer will save you from the work comp paperwork nightmare which is part of the system. You will no longer have to deal with a workers comp insurance company as your work injury attorney will take over that task for you. You will not have to deal with work comp carrier any longer. If you have suffered a work injury, you already have enough to worry about. Your work injury lawyer can also help you obtain benefits if you are unable to work as a result of your work comp injury. Those benefits may be in the form of temporary disability from the workers compensation insurance company or in the form of state disability payments in your workers compensation claim is denied.
Hiring the right local experienced Worker's Comp attorney, preferably a member of the California Applicant Attorneys Association, can help you navigate your case from beginning to end for the best possible outcome for you.
How do I File a Worker's Compensation Claim
Yesterday a patient came in to the clinic to receive treatment for such severe pain that made it difficult for him to walk, work or sleep. He had just been to see yet another worker's comp attorney, who had informed him that the likelihood of him receiving permanent disability was next to nothing to the chagrin of the patient who was a personal comp lawyer himself.
He had fallen on a patch of ice on his way to defend a client who had fallen from a pole while fixing electric wires for the DWP. He was able to crawl to a bench and call an ambulance. At the hospital the doctors iced the injury, gave him some anti-inflammatory medication and sent him home. Over the next few months his pain proceeded to get worse, running throughout his spine and down his legs. His pain medication was increased. In order for him to endure a day up and about he needed to take so much medication that he could not function. The doctors suggested that he had perhaps impacted the spine in such a way that the nerves were being compressed. However, none of this was clearly showing on the X-rays and MRI's.
It was suggested by a friend that he see a chiropractor. The chiropractor began adjusting him every week which allowed him more leg mobility and less numbness, but the pain was still excruciating and at times led to collapse. By the time he began receiving Acupuncture, his right leg had withered. He had burning pain down both sides of his spine and legs. He had not worked in over a year and was living at home with his mother. He was on every kind of pain medication and would drink a lot of alcohol in order to sleep.
The clinic was able to diminish his pain for short periods of time, and stop the spasms, but they could do nothing to alleviate his fury at a government system that would not give him the help he needed unless he was practically bedridden. If he tried to work from home the courts said that he was able to work, therefore he was ineligible for permanent disability under the personal comp system in place. If his pain receded or he began to show signs of improvement, he was frightened that it would injure his case.
He knew how it all worked. Though he had worked as an attorney in this field for years, he had not understood until now the frustration clients were experiencing. He had not understood how difficult it was to fight for what was necessary when you were in mental and physical pain. After jumping through hoop after hoop and seeing lawyer after lawyer he finally quit fighting. Two years had gone by without any substantial relief from symptoms or signs of progress in his legal battles.
Because he was a committed patient the clinic kept seeing him for free. After giving up, his symptoms improved dramatically. He had pain free weeks. The burning subsided. He was able to sleep and drink less. He eventually was able to reduce his pain medication to be able to work again. He became an expert in personal comp law, with a gift for helping those in pain to understand the blessings of fighting as well as surrender.
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