Getting hurt on the job can be quite a stressful experience. Of course, you can prevent this by being careful, but sometimes, accidents are just inevitable.
There is a chance that after getting injured, you might be out of commission. You won’t be able to work as your body needs to heal from your injuries. This might not sound favorable to other employees because they are afraid they might not earn money while recovering.
Getting hurt on the job can lead to lost wages, expensive medical bills, and, those unlucky enough, permanent disability.
So, what exactly happens if you get hurt while you’re working? Can you sue your employer? Will your employer be liable and assist you with your expenses?
The short answer is yes; you have the right to sue your employer if you get injured on the job.
But you have to be aware of a type of law called the “statute of limitations.” Every state has different laws involving the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a time limit for when you can pursue legal action. In California, you have up to two years from the time of the accident to pursue legal action.
You, as a worker, also have the right to workers’ compensation benefits by default. Suppose you are unfamiliar with worker’s compensation benefits. In that case, it’s a law aimed to protect employees by requiring employers to take responsibility in case their worker gets injured in the following circumstances:
- If the employee was injured during work hours.
- If the employee sustained injuries due to repeated exposure at work. (E.g., a worker losing their hearing due to repeated exposure to loud noises at work)
Employees are expected to receive the following benefits through the workers’ compensation law:
- Your employer is expected to pay for your doctor visits and other treatment services, tests, medicines, equipment, and travel costs to help you recover from your injuries.
Temporary and Permanent Disability Benefits
- If you get a temporary or a permanent disability due to a workplace accident, your employer must assist you financially if you lose wages due to your disability.
Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit
- If you are eligible for a permanent disability benefit, you will most likely receive a supplemental job displacement benefit. Getting permanently disabled may affect your ability to work, which may cause you to lose your job. Through the supplemental job displacement benefit, your employer will help you pay for retraining or skill enhancement so you will be able to work other jobs in the future.
- In case an employee dies on the job, the employer is also expected to help the employer’s family with the expenses and lost wages.
How to File a Workers Compensation Claim
The first step in filing a workers’ compensation claim is to inform your employer about the incident. After notifying your employer, they must give you a claim form which you must fill up immediately. It’s important to answer the form right away so there won’t be any delays in receiving your benefits.
Some employees might hesitate to talk to their employers about this fear that they may lose their jobs. Although there were cases in the past where employers will terminate their employees before giving them their workers compensation benefits, the law now punishes employers that practice this.
If your employer terminates you after filing a workers compensation claim, your employer will be subject to a civil lawsuit and punitive damages.
In case your employer is unable to give you the necessary forms, immediately contact your state Workers’ Compensation Office.
What are your rights as an employee?
As an employee, you must familiarize yourself with your rights to avoid getting manipulated by your employer and insurance companies. Every state may have some varying laws to some degree, but here are the general rights that every employee must know:
- Right to file a claim for your injury or illness in workers compensation court or the state industrial court.
- Right to return to work once your physician releases you.
- Right to receive disability compensation if you are unable to return to work due to your injuries.
- Right to appeal to your employer, your employer’s insurance company, and the workers’ compensation court if you disagree with any of their decisions.
- Right to get legal representation and seek the assistance of an attorney.
Should you get a lawyer?
Getting a work accident lawyer in California depends on how complex your case is. If you are unfamiliar with how workers’ compensation laws work, consulting an attorney about workers’ compensation might be best. Some employers tend to take advantage of their less knowledgeable employees to avoid shelling out more cash.
To avoid this, you must consider hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help you get the compensation you rightfully deserve.
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