Have you ever been injured on the job and wonder what’s the best way to maximize this situation? Luckily, we’re here to walk with you and offer the best ways to maximize your settlement. Before diving in, let’s take a look at your basic rights that relate to workers’ compensation here in California.
As an employee, you are entitled to pursue workers’ compensation benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses, regardless of who is at fault. After suffering an injury, you will need to pursue medical attention from a doctor requested by your employer. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act of the State of California, injured employees can see their own doctor at the employer’s expense under specific circumstances. If the employee has registered the name of his or her doctor with their employer prior to the injury, the injured party will be able to receive treatment from that physician.
Here are 6 rights that California employees have:
- File a claim: If you are injured or become ill as a result of your job, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. To file a claim, you must report your injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible. Your employer must provide you with a claim form within one working day of receiving notice of your injury or illness. You must then complete the claim form and return it to your employer.
- Medical treatment: If you are injured or become ill as a result of your job, you have the right to receive medical treatment. This includes all reasonable and necessary medical care related to your injury or illness, such as doctor’s visits, hospital stays, medication, physical therapy, and other medical expenses.
- Temporary disability benefits: If your injury or illness prevents you from working, you have the right to receive temporary disability benefits. These benefits are generally two-thirds of your average weekly wage, subject to certain maximum and minimum limits.
- Permanent disability benefits: If your injury or illness is permanent and prevents you from returning to work, you may be entitled to permanent disability benefits.
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits: If your injury or illness prevents you from returning to your previous job, you may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits. These benefits may include job training, job placement assistance, and other services to help you return to work.
- Job protection: You have the right to return to your job after you have recovered from your injury or illness. Your employer is required to provide you with a job that is similar in pay and duties to your previous job. If your employer cannot provide you with a job, you may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits.
Maximizing Your Settlement
It’s important to educate yourself on basic rights prior to being able to maximize a settlement. Now that we’ve covered your basic rights let’s get into maximizing that settlement. Maximizing your workers’ compensation settlement in California requires a careful and strategic approach.
Here are some steps that you can take to help ensure that you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled:
- Report your injury or illness right away: It’s important to report your injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible. Failure to report your injury or illness in a timely manner can jeopardize your claim and your ability to receive benefits. Being aware of the timeframe required for reporting is important as well as following the appropriate channels for reporting an injury. If you need to report injuries directly to HR, you could end up jeopardizing your case if you only report your injury to your boss or co-workers.
- Be honest and consistent: When speaking to your employer, your doctor, or an insurance adjuster, be honest and consistent with your answers. Don’t keep information to yourself, but don’t make things up either. Always be specific with your responses. Insurance companies are for-profit institutions. They want to make money, so they don’t want to pay out on claims. They will be looking for reasons to deny your claim. One way to do this is for them to find pre-existing conditions. If you had a prior injury or condition, don’t hide it, but do make sure you had no disabling conditions that would have caused your injury, and get expert proof of the same.
- Seek medical attention: If you are injured or become ill as a result of your job, seek medical treatment promptly. Follow your doctor’s orders and attend all appointments, as your medical records will be used to support your claim for benefits. If you get medical attention but do not follow the doctor’s advice, this lack of compliance could be cited as why your injuries became so severe. For your health and your workers’ compensation case, it is often better to follow the instructions and necessary precautions from a physician when it comes to medical orders.
- Use caution when providing medical authorizations: Your medical or mental health records are not the business of an insurance company. Don’t give them a general release for your medical records. Also, be wary of signing any documents provided by an insurance company if you don’t have a workers’ compensation lawyer look over them first. If you do sign an authorization for the release of medical records, be sure it only gives access to work-related information and is dated after the accident. Don’t trust that you must sign their version of a medical authorization form. You can make changes in ink to their form, make up your own, or have an attorney represent you for medical releases.
- Reassess your choice of doctor: Many workers’ compensation insurance companies have doctors they work with. This may mean the doctor has an inherent conflict of interest. Sometimes, doctors may deny tests or medications, or say you can return to work so they’ll continue to get regular compensation from an insurance company. If at any time you have doubts or questions about a doctor’s diagnosis or treatment plan, you should get a second opinion. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you with legal guidance.
- Keeping appointments: It is very important to attend every appointment made with a physician and any hearing scheduled in your case. Regular attendance without rescheduling or missing an appointment shows that you are serious about your case and getting the medical care you need to recover.
- Keep records: Keep detailed records of all medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs associated with your injury or illness. This information will be used to calculate your benefits and ensure that you receive the maximum amount to which you are entitled. Accurate and complete records allow you to provide evidence throughout your case. You should keep track of the incident reports made to your employer, hospital records, and diary entries relating to the accident as well.
- Consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney: A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can help you navigate the complex claims process, ensure that your rights are protected, and help you maximize your benefits. An attorney can also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and help you secure the full benefits to which you are entitled.
- Consider settling your claim: If you are unable to return to your previous job or your injury is permanent, you may be able to settle your claim for a lump sum payment. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you negotiate a fair settlement and ensure that your interests are protected.
At some point in your case, you may be given the option to settle your case for a specific amount of compensation. The decision is yours, but hiring an attorney can ensure that you are getting the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
It’s important to note that there are certain requirements and deadlines associated with filing a workers’ compensation claim in California. Workers’ compensation attorneys here at Solov and Teitell know how to navigate the process and help you maximize your settlement.