Workers Compensation Claims for Physical Injuries
As a worker, sustaining a work-related injury is a very real possibility which unfortunately happens to many workers. It is important for one to know their rights and their options if such an injury occurs. If you are an employee in the State of California, you are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits according to the Los Angeles Workers Compensation laws if you sustain an injury as a result of your employment. If you believe that such an injury has occurred, then you need to become familiar with the benefits you may be entitled to, and how to claim them.
In such instances, you may prefer engaging a Los Angeles Workers Compensation Attorney who will help you navigate the complexities related to managing your claim.
In order to get acquainted with the basics regarding the Los Angeles Workers Compensation laws, you can browse all of the articles available on our page.
This article shall deal with one of the most common types of work-related injuries, namely physical injuries. For your convenience, the article shall be divided in sections, discussing the basics with respect to workers’ compensation claims for physical injuries.
What are work-related injuries?
In order for your injury to be compensable under the workers’ compensation laws in California, it must be a work-related injury. But what does that mean exactly? A work-related injury may be any injury which you have sustained as a result of your employment, regardless of whether it was sustained as a result of one accident in particular, or over a long period of time (also referred to as “cumulative trauma”). The law states that a work-related injury is one “arising out of and in the course of employment”. According to the California Labor Code, the term “injury” includes the following:
- Injury to the body;
- Injury to artificial body parts, such as a prosthetic limb;
- Injury to dentures;
- Damage to eyeglasses if the damage occurs during an injury that causes disability;
- Damage to hearing aids if the damage occurs during an injury that causes disability;
- Industrial or occupational diseases, like asbestosis or carpal tunnel syndrome;
- Work-related aggravation of a pre-existing illness, injury or condition;
- Psychiatric or psychological injury;
- A medical reaction or side effect caused by health care provided by an employer to a health care or public safety employee;
- Work-related deaths.
As mentioned above, this article shall focus on physical injuries. For all other types of injuries, please refer to other articles which we have provided within our site, or contact one of our Los Angeles Workers Compensation Attorneys who can provide you with advice tailored to your specific case.
What are physical injuries sustained at work?
A physical injury in itself is an “injury to the body”, and thus sustaining such an injury while at work shall fall within the definition of a work-related injury and shall thus be compensable.
The injuries which fall within the definition of “physical injury” are non-exhaustive, as it very much depends on the type of your employment and the accident which may occur, to determine what kind of injuries may be sustained. Common physical injures include:
- Broken limbs / bones;
- Injuries caused by falling objects, such as head injuries;
- Slip and fall injuries;
- Paralysis and spinal cord injuries;
- Burns, etc.
As mentioned, this list is non-exhaustive. Even if the injury that you have sustained does not fall within any of the aforementioned, this does not necessarily mean that it is not a physical injury where compensation may be owed to you.
Example: You are working in an office, which has a kitchen where employees usually have their coffee or afternoon snacks. You go to the kitchen to get a coffee, but there has been an unexpected leak and the floor is slippery. You slip, fall down and injure your right leg and you break your right arm. This is considered as a physical injury.
Example 2: You are working as an architect, and as a part of your work-related obligations you need to visit the construction sites of the projects you are assigned to. During one of those visits, there is an accident where a worker drops a heavy metal pike and it falls on your shoulder. Your shoulder is thus dislocated as a result of the accident.
As can be seen, there are endless scenarios where you may sustain a physical injury as a result of your employment, and while on the job. It is important in such situations to know how what steps to take, and what to do in order not to hurt your future claim.
How to report a physical injury that I have sustained on-the-job?
When you have sustained an injury, it is important to let your employer know as soon as possible, so the necessary steps can be taken in order to help you, and so that you do not hurt your future claim for compensation. Most importantly, you should seek medical attention if you need it as soon as you get injured.
Notifying your employer is easy: you need to report your injury to your supervisor. There are some deadlines which you need to be aware of:
· For physical injuries, you need to notify your employer within 30 days after you have been injured, and thus the sooner you do it, the better. You can achieve that easily by notifying your supervisor, and it is best that the notification is written – could be over e-mail or fax as well.
· The next step must be taken by the supervisor – they must provide you with a Workers’ Compensation claim form within 1 (one) day of becoming aware of your injury, and you should fill out the form and return it to your employer.
· You then have 1 (one) year to file a claim, but there may be some exceptions that can extend this time frame.
What workers’ compensation benefits can I get for a physical injury?
If your workers’ compensation claim is approved, you may receive payment for the following:
- Medical costs associated with the necessary care for treating the injury;
- Partial wage replacement for the time spent away from work which you have needed to recover (when there is temporary disability);
- Permanent disability benefits, for cases where you cannot make a full recovery and thus your work capacity is permanently limited;
- Payments for retraining, where you are not able to go back to your previous employment due to the nature of your injury; and
- Death benefits, which are paid out to dependents if the injured worker subsequently dies as a result of the physical injury.
How are the amount of benefits determined?
From what has been outlined above, it is only logical that the benefits you might be entitled to are determined according to the nature and extent of the injury that has been sustained.
The workers’ compensation system is designed to help employees that have been injured with compensation for the financial losses resulting from the injury, such as medical treatment and the time off work needed in order to heal. To give you a general idea how the benefits that you may be entitled to are determined, the following are important factors in calculating the type and amount of the benefits that you may be entitled to:
· Extent of the injury;
· Cost of medical treatment;
· Whether the employee is able to return to work;
· Whether the employee is or will be able to obtain any employment whatsoever;
· The way that the injury was sustained.
As per the California Labor Code, “In determining the percentage of permanent partial or permanent total disability, account shall be taken of the nature of the physical injury or disfigurement, the occupation of the injured employee, and his or her age at the time of injury.” Further, the nature of the physical injury or disfigurement includes the “descriptions and measurements of physical impairments and the corresponding percentage of impairments.”
Thus, for each case a number of factors must be examined individually in order to determine the physical disability benefits which should be claimed and which might be received. Contacting a professional workers’ compensation lawyer will give you the ability to calculate the benefits for your particular case.
I have trouble determining the type of injury that I have sustained, what should I do?
If you have been injured at work, and you have trouble with the steps that you need to take in order to take advantage of the protections you are entitled to under the law due to your status as a employee, it is recommended that you contact a professional who can help you with your claim. This will allow you to make use of all of the benefits which may be available to you, and in turn will enable you to focus on getting better instead of worrying about the legal complications related to filing a claim and being awarded compensation.
Contacting one of our Workplace Injury Lawyers Los Angeles could be the first step in receiving the maximum workers’ compensation benefits that you are entitled to with respect to your injury. Our professionals will provide you with the experience, advice and attention you need in order to be successful with your claim.