California employers have a legal obligation to provide their employees with a reasonably safe work environment. But what happens if they fail to do this and an employee sustains injuries on the job as a result? At Dewberry Law, we can help you understand your employees’ rights under workers’ compensation. To learn more about whether you have a valid claim, contact us today.
What Are Your Rights Under Workers’ Compensation?
Although employees’ rights under workers’ compensation may vary between states, in California, these include the rights to:
- File a workers’ compensation claim
- Appeal a denial of your claim
- Be represented by a workers’ comp lawyer
- See a doctor or medical provider
- Continue treatment for ongoing injuries
- Return to your job after you are released by your doctor
- Obtain disability compensation if you are unable to return to work
You also have a right to obtain coverage by workers’ compensation as opposed to your health insurance or Social Security disability. After sustaining an injury at work, you may be eligible for multiple programs; however, workers’ compensation should be one of your first claims.
The Law Protects You Against Harassment From Your Employer
Workers’ compensation law protects employees against inappropriate actions by employers. If you file a claim, your employer’s workers’ comp insurance premiums may go up. Thus, they may try to prevent you from making a workers’ comp claim or from obtaining ongoing treatment. Their harassment, which may include threats, calls, emails, and more, is illegal.
Your employer also cannot make it more difficult for you to do your job since you filed a workers’ comp claim. If your employer takes actions against you, give you harder work, or makes your work more difficult, then they may be violating your employees’ rights under workers’ compensation.
Protecting Your Employee Rights
You can report your injury or illness to your human relations department and any safety professionals at your job. In fact, you may be required to make such a report within a certain amount of time. You should adhere to claims deadlines to prevent becoming ineligible for benefits.
You have a right to medical care and other benefits through workers’ comp. However, you must file a claim to trigger protections of those rights. By filing an official workers’ compensation claim, you are giving your employer and the workers’ compensation department notice of your injury or illness. Once a claim is filed, your employees’ rights under workers’ compensation kick in.
Rights Against People Other Than Your Employer
You also have rights under other laws. If you were injured on the job due to a third-party’s negligence, then you may be able to file a personal injury claim against them. A third-party is generally someone other than a coworker who was acting in the scope of their job. That may include a company that manufactured faulty machinery, an independent contractor on your job site, or an off-duty coworker who was playing a joke that resulted in injury.
Third party injury claims are typically based on negligence. That means the other person or company failed to act in a reasonable manner and caused your injury or illness. Personal injury lawsuits can take a significant amount of time to pursue, and they can be costly. However, many personal injury attorneys deal with cases on a contingency basis. That means they don’t get paid until you win your case or settle it with the third party.
Third parties often have insurance companies that cover their claims. For example, if a manufacturer made a defective machine that caused your injury, then you would likely deal with their insurance company to handle your claim. You should always work with a personal injury attorney to protect your rights against other people and companies.
You can file both a third-party claim and a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ comp rarely provides 100 percent coverage for losses, so a personal injury lawsuit can cover the rest of your damages.