Below are some frequently asked questions answered by our accomplished Workers’ Compensation attorneys. Call us now at (424)325-2205 for a free consultation. We are happy to answer additional questions and assist you with evaluation of your claim. Our dedicated attorneys are here to help.
What Does “No-Fault” Mean?
The no-fault Workers’ Compensation system in California was designed to protect the injured worker. If an employee has been injured at work, and a medical physician finds that work caused the injury, the employee generally is entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits.
You do not have to prove that your employer did anything wrong or caused your work injury to pursue a Workers’ Compensation claim.
- The employer does not have to have acted negligently for you to obtain Workers’ Compensation benefits
- The employer does not have to have acted in bad faith for you to obtain Workers’ Compensation benefits
- The employer does not have to have done anything wrong for you to obtain Workers’ Compensation benefits
Remember, you may obtain medical treatment and wage replacement through the Workers’ Compensation system even when your employer has provided every protection that is required for your work. The Workers’ Compensation laws in California are designed to protect you when you have been hurt on the job and may allow for medical care and treatment, paid time off work with wage replacement, and other benefits when a doctor finds you have suffered a disability due to work. It is crucial to consult with one of our experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys when you have been injured at work. We are here to help in your time of need.
If California Is a No-Fault State, What Difference Can an Attorney Have on a Workers’ Compensation Case?
An enormous difference. The California Workers’ Compensation system can be complicated and overwhelming, especially for someone who is suffering from an injury, and just really needs help and time to recover from the injury to get back on track.
We help injured workers navigate the complex Workers’ Compensation system. With our vast experience, our licensed attorneys have made appearances at all the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board locations in Southern California and are familiar with the Workers’ Compensation judges.
We do have cases where injured employees come to us after they have tried to traverse the workers’ compensation system on their own. What most people find is that it is burdensome and they begin to run into hurdles with denials of much needed medical treatment and denial of wage replacement benefits. This could not come at a worse time than when someone has just suffered a work injury and feels unable to perform job duties fully or without pain.
We understand that when you are injured and not receiving medical treatment or benefits, your quality of life declines quickly and worries build regarding finances.
The earlier you consult with a knowledgeable attorney, the better. Our attorneys proactively fight on behalf of our clients who have been injured at work, which relieves much stress and pressure, to allow our clients to focus on recovery and healing.
Are There Specific Deadlines to Worry About?
The initial deadline any employee should meet concerns notifying the employer of the work injury. Thus, it is crucial that an employee immediately notify the supervisor of the work injury. Technically, the “employer” can be the managing representative or an employee’s supervisor. The injured worker should inform the manager or supervisor about the work injury right away. This then obligates the employer to provide the injured worker with a Claim Form, the employee should complete the claim form immediately and return it to the employer.
Another document that is filed in Workers’ Compensation cases is the State of California Division of Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Application for Adjudication of Claim (DWC/WCAB Form 1A). There generally is a time period within which to file this document, which gives the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board jurisdiction over the injured worker’s Workers’ Compensation claim. The injured worker is often referred to as a Workers’ Compensation Applicant.
There are various other Workers’ Compensation timelines and deadlines, including some involving medical treatment. When a request for medical treatment that is recommended by a physician is denied, there generally is an opportunity to appeal that denial within a specific timeline. In certain instances where timelines are appropriately followed, the denial of medical treatment may be overturned with the recommended medical treatment subsequently granted to the injured worker or Workers’ Compensation Applicant. However, the proper procedure must be followed for this secondary review to occur.
In addition, there are deadlines related to contesting a physician’s medical findings, which may have a great impact on the outcome of your case. For instance, take the case where an injured employee is off work on disability and feels physically unable to return to work; however, his or her doctor finds the worker can return to full work duties. Under these and similar circumstances, an employee generally only has a limited amount of time to object to that doctor’s findings, with an opportunity to obtain a third party medical opinion.
The Workers’ Compensation system in California is complex. Various timelines and deadlines are imposed that must be followed. Our dedicated Workers’ Compensation attorneys are here to assist you with navigating through the complicated process and ensure all state required timelines and deadlines are met so that you may focus on your recovery.
Do Notice Deadline Requirements Apply to Both Specific Injuries as well as Cumulative Trauma Injuries?
Yes. The deadlines to report a work injury apply whether an individual has suffered from a specific injury at work (like a slip and fall in the office) or a cumulative trauma injury due to prolonged and repetitive work duties (like carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive back strain).
The notice deadline applies differently for different types of injuries. For this reason, it is critical to consult with one of our experienced attorneys immediately after you have been injured at work or realize that your work may be causing you a long-term injury.
What Happens Once an Employer Has Been Notified of an Injury?
Once an employer has been notified of an injury, the employer has a duty to provide the injured worker with a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC 1). Once provided with the Claim Form, it is the injured workers’ responsibility to complete his or her portion of the Claim Form and return it to the employer.
Generally, once the completed Claim Form has been returned to the employer, a 90 day clock begins to run during which time the employer may investigate the injured worker’s claim of injury. The employer may conduct various forms of discovery, including but not limited to obtaining medical records via subpoena or other requests and deposing the injured worker. Within the 90 days, the employer may either accept and admit that the employment caused injury, or the employer can deny the injured worker’s claim of injury. If no denial is issued by the employer or its insurance company/third party administrator and 90 days has elapsed since the Claim Form was returned to the employer, the claim becomes presumed compensable and will be treated as if it were accepted.
Generally, once a Workers’ Compensation claim has been accepted, the employer’s insurance company/third party administrator will begin to provide medical treatment and even wage loss, where appropriate.
It is important to keep in mind, that even in cases where a Workers’ Compensation claim has been denied, the injured worker may still be able to obtain medical treatment on a lien basis, as well as wage loss for work related injury through the California State Employment Development Department.
All injured employees should be able to obtain medical treatment and paid time off work to allow for recovery and healing when they have been hurt on the job. Our attorneys have helped injured employees with both accepted and denied claims obtain medical treatment, paid time off work, and other Workers’ Compensation benefits. Contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can assist you after you have been hurt at work.
Do I Have to Pay Any Up-front Fees Before the Attorneys at Joe, Southard & Yeoh LLP Will Represent Me?
No, we do not collect any fees or payment up front. To serve the best interests of our clients, we handle all Workers’ Compensation cases on a contingency fee basis. That means we will not collect a fee payment from our Workers’ Compensation client, unless and until our client’s case either has settled or an award is issued by a Judge in the case.
There are NO up-front fees or hidden consulting costs. During the free consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss your case fully and have it evaluated by an experienced Los Angeles Workers’ Compensation attorney.
What Are Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits (SJDB)?
Injured employees may be eligible for supplemental job displacement benefits in the form of a voucher in certain situations. The amount of the voucher varies depending on the level of permanent disability.
The voucher generally may be used for:
- Retraining for another job with tuition for classes to prepare for a change in vocation
- Generally, the voucher covers school tuition, fees, books and expenses required by the school for training
- In certain instances, a percentage of the voucher may be used for vocational and return to work counseling
- In certain instances, a portion of the voucher may be used for the purchase of computer equipment
What Happens After I Contact Your Firm?
It is essential that employees act quickly and contact us as soon as possible after a work injury so that we may take all necessary steps to help them evaluate their claim and proactively fight for them. As discussed above, the Workers’ Compensation system in California is complex and imposes various deadlines and timelines that must be followed.
We are dedicated to you, and aggressively advocate on behalf of injured workers. We help our clients with every stage of their workers’ compensation claims to achieve a successful resolution.
Who Will Handle My Case at Your Office? A Licensed Attorney or a Non-Attorney Paralegal or Non-Attorney Hearing Representative?
All of our clients can rest assured knowing they will work directly with a knowledgeable and dedicated, licensed attorney on their Workers’ Compensation claim. We do not utilize non-attorney hearing representatives at hearings, depositions, court conferences, or at trial. Anyone looking for a Workers’ Compensation attorney should keep in mind the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board allows hearing representatives (which are not licensed attorneys) to represent injured workers. As a result, these non-attorney hearing representatives are commonly hired by law firms that represent injured workers with their Workers’ Compensation claims. That is not how our law firm operates. We have found that use of non-attorneys in these instances often delays resolution of an injured worker’s claim, and that having a non-attorney represent a client may even adversely affect the outcome of a case.
It is in these times that our clients need the knowledge and experience of a licensed attorney on their side, rather than a non-attorney that may be less familiar with the clients’ injuries and Workers’ Compensation laws and procedures. Our clients feel confident they will have an aggressive and knowledgeable licensed attorney defending them, and advocating on their behalf at every critical point of their Workers’ Compensation claim.
Do Your Workers’ Compensation Cases End in Settlement or Proceed to Trial Before a Judge?
To ensure our clients’ rights are fully protected, our attorneys prepare each case as if it will proceed to trial. Our attorneys are extremely dedicated to advocating on behalf of our clients and aggressively push cases forward.
In each case, we file the Application for Adjudication of Claim, in addition to a Claim Form for our clients. This provides additional protection to our clients by giving the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board jurisdiction to hear the case should an employer fail to properly authorize medical treatment or pay benefits due to the injured employee or Applicant.
This means that when our clients do not receive the benefits or medical treatment they are entitled to, we can request a hearing to appear before an administrative law judge, and fight on our clients’ behalf until we achieve success.
Ultimately, most Workers’ Compensation claims end in settlement with successful negotiation by our attorneys on behalf of our clients who have been injured at work. This does not diminish the results our clients enjoy. We understand that much is on the line when our clients have been hurt on the job, and we work diligently to ensure a successful and equitable result for each client we represent. Thus, in instances where a fair settlement is not offered, we are prepared and aggressively fight for our clients at trial.