What benefits are you entitled to when injured on the job?
The short answer is that you are entitled to compensation and medical treatment when injured on the job.
The longer answer: the exact amount and duration of compensation you may receive depends on the nature of your work-place injury or illness—namely whether you need medical treatment, suffer from a temporary disability, or suffer from a permanent disability.
In California, any business with one or more employees is required to provide coverage. This means that just about every employee (including temporary, part-time and sometimes even contractors) are eligible for workers’ compensation. As long as you file a claim within one year from the date of your job-related injury or illness, you are entitled to benefits.
Even if you are partly to blame for the injury, if your working conditions contributed to the damage or disease your employer is still required by state to provide workers’ comp. There are some obvious exceptions to this, such as committing a crime, violating company policy, or working while drunk or high. But aside from that, if you’ve sustained a sudden injury or cumulative illness while on the job, you are entitled to workers’ compensation.
Work-related illnesses range from minor repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, to diseases like asbestosis (overexposure to asbestos), to the rampaging Coronavirus.
We recommend seeking treatment at the first sign of any symptoms caused by work-place duties or toxic exposure. Don’t try to “tough it out” or downplay any discomfort or pain you feel. Not only can that ultimately affect the scope of your treatment, it can delay your recovery and diminish your benefits. Doctors still rely on patients to report the severity of the illness or injury, so it’s vital that you are as honest as possible.
Even if the injury or illness seems minor, your employer is required to pay for any medical treatment (at least until a decision has been on whether to accept or deny your claim). This extends to pre-existing conditions that were aggravated by the nature of your job or job-related accident (think hearing loss, PTSD, and muscle strain). And in California, “medical treatment” extends to chiropractic needs, physical therapy, and occupational therapy as well.
Temporary Partial or Total Disability
Employees receive Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits when their workplace injury or illness forces them to work in a modified or “light duty” capacity. This could mean working fewer hours or a shift in job duties. If that’s the case, your employer would pay you TPD benefits which are typically equal to two-thirds of your previous wages minus what you are making in your new position.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits occur when a workplace injury or illness forces you to stop working all together while you recuperate. State laws require a “waiting period” before someone is eligible to file for TTD benefits. For California, the waiting period is 3 calendar days. This means that if you need more than 3 days to recover before returning to work, your employer would be subject to paying TTD benefits, which are typically equivalent to two-thirds of your previous wages prior to the injury or illness. Depending on the job position, this could be $200 to $1,200 a week.
These benefits last until:
the state decreed maximum duration has been reached (in California, that’s up to 104 weeks within 5 years from the date of injury)
a doctor determines that you’ve fully recovered and can return to full pay statues, or
a doctor determines that you have reached Max Medical Improvement (MMI) status and the condition or disability will not fully improve
Permanent Partial or Total Disability
The amount of time it takes to reach MMI status varies from a few weeks to even a few years after you first became injured or noticed any symptoms. Once you’ve reached MMI status, the doctor will rate your disability (based on how it will affect your changes of employment) on a scale from 0% to 100%
If you get a rating of less than 100%, meaning your injuries or illness left you with a permanent limitation, you qualify for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits. The exact amount depends on the severity of the disability (i.e. loss of hearing in one ear versus the loss of an entire limb), when and how the injury occurred, and your previous wages. Total loss of vision in one eye, according to one source, is worth $35,000 in PPD benefits.
If you get a rating of 100%, meaning you are permanently disabled and cannot return to work in any kind of capacity, you qualify for Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits. This is reserved for the most debilitating conditions (i.e. loss of both arms or legs). PTD benefits are calculated in a similar fashion to PPD benefits, but are usually paid for the rest of the employee’s life.
Know that you are not just entitled to monetary benefits, you are also entitled to help. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will not only be able to explain which benefits you qualify for, they will fight to ensure you receive them. Leave the complicated paperwork the lawyers while you focus on recovery.
Barsoum Law is here to support you and protect your interests throughout the entire workers’ comp process. We offer a personal focus and individualized care that large corporate firms do not. And our multilingual, multicultural team is dedicated to making sure you obtain the compensation you deserve.
If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, Barsoum Law can and will help. We have represented thousands of injured workers throughout California the past 25 years. Contact us today at 877-299-1555 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.