GET HELP FROM WEST COVINA WORK INJURY LAWYER, LEM GARCIA
In West Covina and throughout Los Angeles, work place injuries are very common. Thousands of workers suffer minor and serious injuries while on the job every year. Unfortunately, these workplace injuries can cause your temporary or permanent damage. After a workplace injury you probably have a lot of questions.
- How will my medical bills be paid?
- How will I provide for my family if I’m too injured to work?
- How will I work in the future if I can’t return to my job?
- How will I receive new job training?
This is a very short list of the possible questions you may have after a work-related injury. West Covina injury lawyer, Lem Garcia, can answer all of the questions you have and provide you with excellent legal help.
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After suffering an injury on the job, there are several important steps that you should take to build a strong case for yourself. Here is a list of the most important things you should do after a workplace accident.
- Get medical attention. Don’t neglect your health. Make sure you immediately get assistance even if you think you might only need it.
- Find witnesses. Determine who saw the accident and record their pertinent information.
- Report the accident. Make sure the company you work for has a record of the accident in their file.
- Indicate who your medical provider will be. Avoid the company doctor and see your own doctor. See a specialist if you need one.
- Determine who your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier is and contact them ASAP if you will be out of work.
- File a Claim Form.
- Contact an attorney to discuss your rights and what your expectations should be.
- Save your documentation (medical bills, medical reports, claim form, wage records, correspondence with insurance company).
- Make sure you are being paid 2/3 of your gross weekly wage before deductions.
- Never sign a release until your case should be completely settled (you have reached maximal medical improvement).
- Keep track of your health condition after accident.
- Don’t discuss your case with anyone other than your spouse, doctor, and attorney. Recorded statements from insurance adjusters are not necessary.
Unfortunately, many Californians in the greater Los Angeles area face challenges when attempting to collect their workers’ compensation benefits. Some of the most common roadblocks include:
- Employer ignorance: Some employers knowingly or unknowingly obstruct the process of workers’ compensation recovery by not providing important information, documents, or other assistance to you or other injured employees.
- Coworker confusion: Other employees who witnessed the injury may not share their perspective or may not be truthful in their retelling of the incident, which can impact your claim.
- Insurance denial: The insurance company covering the workers’ compensation claim might want to pay as little as possible in damages, leaving the onus for proof of injury or disability on you.
- Workers’ compensation backlog: Some workers’ compensation claims are left in a bureaucratic backlog for lengthy periods of time, leaving you responsible for paying expensive medical bills or making ends meet without wages while waiting for your workers’ compensation payments.
- Overwhelming situations: After a workplace injury, you might be disoriented, on strong medications, and dealing with doctor’s appointments, rehabilitation, company leadership, insurance adjusters, and more. It can be a challenge to keep everything straight and organized, which can lead to missed deadlines, lost paperwork, and the potential for less compensation than you’re entitled.
Your best course of action is to speak with a lawyer, like West Covina personal injury lawyer Lem Garcia to help you determine whether you have the grounds for a personal injury case or if you’re better off pursuing workers’ compensation exclusively.
Workers’ compensation and personal injury claims both support workers injured on the job. However, they have some important distinctions.
Workers’ compensation provides benefits like a percentage of lost wages, medical expenses, and rehabilitation. You do not have to prove who or what caused your injury when filing for workers’ compensation — you are entitled to benefits even if you were at fault for the injury in some capacity. This is because, even if you caused the injury in some way, you wouldn’t have been in the position to be injured in the first place had you not been at work. However, workers’ compensation does not provide any benefits for things like pain and suffering.
A personal injury claim, in comparison, can provide substantially more financial support than a workers’ compensation claim alone for on-the-job injuries. People injured outside of the workplace can also file personal injury claims in the case of injury or disability caused by a third party. Unlike workers’ compensation, which is awarded regardless of proving fault, the responsible party must be proven in a personal injury claim in order to receive any payment for damages. Personal injury claims can recover substantially more compensation than workers’ compensation claims, including not only medical bills and lost wages but also settlement for pain and suffering.
First, determine whether or not you’re covered by your company’s workers’ compensation policy. Often, workers or companies that meet these criteria are not covered by workers’ compensation, even in the case of an injury sustained on the job:
- Workers classified as independent contractors or freelancers rather than employees.
- Companies exempt from their state’s workers’ compensation requirements.
- Companies that have opted out of providing workers’ compensation benefits.
In these cases, you won’t be able to file for workers’ compensation benefits at all.
For those who are eligible for workers’ compensation, it’s important to know the specifics of the company’s policy and state statutes. Many states, including California, limit the amount of money provided for disability pay and medical treatment depending on the severity of the injury and any resulting long-term disability.
If your workers’ compensation benefits aren’t going to comfortably cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and general pain and suffering, then it’s time to consider a personal injury claim. If you’re eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, then you cannot bring a claim against your employer. However, if a third party is at fault, you can bring your claim against them. For example, if a piece of machinery malfunctioned and it resulted in your injury, you could not bring a claim against your employer, but you could bring a claim against the company who manufactured the equipment. Personal injury claims can provide compensation for:
- Any related medical care, short- or long-term.
- Any past wages and future wages lost due to your injury.
- Injury-related out-of-pocket costs like prescription drug expenses.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of your enjoyment of life.
The bottom line — workers’ compensation does not require proving fault, but it only offers limited benefits. Personal injury claims, on the other hand, require proof of third-party fault, but they can provide substantial compensation, relief, and support.
Many people believe that they will only be able to recover workers’ compensation for their injury while on the job. This is true in many situations, but there are also many circumstances where this is not the case. To discover if you can recover more than workers’ compensation from your work injury, you should speak to West Covina personal injury lawyer Lem Garcia. Here are a few examples where you can recover more than workers’ compensation due to a workplace injury:
- If a defective product caused your injuries, you might have a product liability case against the manufacturer of the product. A product is considered defective when it is manufactured poorly, designed poorly, or has an inadequate warning label or instructions.
- If a third party caused your injuries, you might have a tort claim or personal injury claim against the third party that caused your injury.
- If your employer’s intentional or egregious conduct caused your injury, you might have a tort claim or personal injury claim against your employer for their conduct.
- If a toxic substance caused your injuries, you might have a toxic tort case against the manufacturer of the toxic substance.
Workers’ compensation does provide benefits, but it does not pay for pain and suffering like personal injury cases do. Because of this, it is important to know when you have more than a workers’ compensation case. The difference in your damage award can be quite substantial. Also, keep in mind that you may be able to recover for Social Security Disability Insurance if your injury renders you disabled and unable to work.
If a defective product caused your injuries, you may have a product liability case against the manufacturer of the defective product. In this situation, you would be able to recover workers’ compensation and personal injury damage. In addition to the workers’ compensation payment, your personal injury damages award could include the following:
- Physical pain.
- Mental anguish.
- Loss of earnings or loss of earning capacity.
- Medical bills.
- Physical impairment.
- Loss of consortium.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
If a third party caused your injuries, you may receive workers’ compensation benefits and have a personal injury claim against the third party. For example, if a pizza delivery man gets rear-ended while making a delivery, workers’ compensation would provide payment for the employee’s medical bills, any out-of-pocket expenses, and a portion of lost wages. His workers’ compensation benefits would not provide payment for pain and suffering. To recover for pain and suffering, the pizza delivery man would have to bring a personal injury claim against the third party.
If your employer intentionally or egregiously caused your injuries, you may have a personal injury claim against your employer, which would be outside the scope of the workers’ compensation system where you would potentially be able to recover more. Egregious conduct is conduct that is flagrant or exceptionally bad, which means that the employer’s actions were deliberate and certain to injure the employee. If you believe that you are a victim of your employer’s intentional or egregious conduct, you should speak to West Covina work injury lawyer Lem Garcia to determine your rights.
If a toxic substance caused your injuries at work, you might have a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of the toxic substance as well as a workers’ compensation claim. Toxic substance claims do not only exist in factories and chemical plants — they can exist at any place of employment. Attorneys, doctors, and retail salespeople can all have toxic substance claims if they were exposed to toxic substances at work that caused their injuries. Common situations include exposure to paint fumes, asbestos, lead, pesticides, mercury, acids, and other common workplace substances. Your compensable pain and suffering may include brain damage, nerve damage, burns, rashes, throat injuries, lung injuries, and many other debilitating afflictions.
Remember that if you accept workers’ compensation from your company, you cannot file a personal injury claim against them. However, in many cases, personal injury is caused by a third party. If you’re injured on the job, think about the circumstances of your injury, and consider whether any of the following people were at fault:
A workplace injury whether minor or serious leads to a variety of questions and concerns. Feel free to call me 24/7 with your questions and concerns about your workplace injury. I look forward to helping you get through this difficult time. I am a West Covina personal injury lawyer and I service Southern California.
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Lem Garcia | Law
1720 W. Cameron Ave., Ste. 210
West Covina, CA 91790
3281 E. Guasti Rd., 7th Floor
Ontario, CA 91761
(By Appointment Only)
17777 Center Court Dr.
Cerritos, CA 90703
(By Appointment Only)