What types of benefits are available for workers’ compensation in California?

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Marcelo A. Dieguez - Employment & Labor - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Marcelo A. Dieguez

Located in Irvine, CADiefer Law Group, P.C.

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Under California’s workers’ compensation system, workers are eligible for several types of benefits for a work-related injury or illness. These benefits include medical care; temporary disability payments to replace lost wages and a permanent disability settlement.

In some cases, workers’ compensation also offers a certain amount of assistance with vocational rehabilitation. If the accident was fatal, there may also be death benefits available for dependent family members.

Medical Care

Workers’ compensation is supposed to pay for all reasonable and necessary medical care after a work-related injury or illness. In most cases, this care is delivered through a medical provider network (MPN) approved by the state.

Unfortunately, many doctors in MPNs used by self-insured employers and insurance companies tend to put pressure on injured workers to return to work too quickly. Disputes may also arise about whether a specific treatment is needed,

By working with a skilled workers’ compensation attorney, you can strongly assert your right to be treated fairly throughout the process.

Temporary Disability

Temporary disability benefits are generally two-thirds of the wages you miss out on because of your injury. The amount is based on your gross wages, before taxes. 

The payments are supposed to begin after you are hospitalized for at least one night or your doctor states that you can’t perform your usual work for more than three days.

As its name implies, temporary disability payments do not last indefinitely. They continue until you go back to work or for a limited period (two years and, in some exceptions, a third year of temporary disability from the state).

Permanent Disability

Some workers are not able to recover fully from work-related injuries or illness. But permanent disability benefits may be available.

Essentially, permanent disability mounts to a settlement of the case, in which an injured worker receives a lump sum. The permanent disability amount is expressed as an impairment level, which reflects the percentage to which your future earning capacity is reduced due to a partial or total inability to work.

The amount of the disability payment is based on this percentage, using a formula set by California’s workers’ compensation law.

For totally disabled workers, complicated issues regarding Social Security and Medicare may arise. These are best faced with guidance from an experienced attorney.

Other Benefits

California law allows for certain amounts of vocational rehabilitation to help injured workers get ready to go back to work.

If the work injury or illness was fatal, there are also death benefits available for dependent family members under the law.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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