If you were injured on the job or suffered an occupational illness, you are likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In California, nearly all employees are eligible for workers’ compensation, including full-time employees, part-time employees, and seasonal workers. Additionally, workers’ compensation covers all types of work-related injuries, illnesses, and medical conditions—as long as you can prove that your injury or illness was caused by activities you carried out that benefitted your employer or your workplace environment, you are covered.
Unfortunately, actually recovering workers’ compensation benefits is not a given. In fact, your employer or their insurance company may dispute your claim—or even deny it altogether. It is important that you protect yourself, your rights, and your best interests by working with an experienced legal team.
Serving the Greater Los Angeles Area
At the Barkhordarian Law Firm, our Los Angeles workers’ compensation attorneys have spent nearly a decade representing injured workers and employees throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area and beyond. From our office, we provide personalized legal services and aggressive client advocacy. Our team is here to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have at any stage of the legal process. We provide legal services in English and Spanish and, when it comes to our workers’ compensation services, we do not collect any attorney fees unless/until we recover compensation on your behalf.
On This Page:
- What Is Workers’ Compensation?
- Types of Work-Related Injuries
- Workers’ Compensation Benefits in California
- Understanding California’s Workers’ Compensation Process
- How a Los Angeles Workers' Comp Lawyer Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program put in place by the State of California to medically treat and financially compensate employees who have been injured on the job. Each state mandates its individual laws for the administration of workers’ compensation claims, payments, procedures, and legal proceedings. In California, nearly all employees are covered by workers’ compensation. Additionally, because it is a no-fault system, you do not need to prove that anyone was negligent or that you were not at fault for the accident or incident that caused your injuries to recover compensation.
If you have been injured or became ill while performing work as an employee, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. It is important to know your rights to be sure you receive the appropriate medical care and compensation due to you.
Workplace injuries can be very complex and range from simple injuries that heal in a few weeks to devastating ones that may never resolve. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, the Barkhordarian Law Firm can help you determine what needs to be done to protect your rights and help you get what you deserve.
Types of Work-Related Injuries
Our workers compensation attorneys in Los Angeles have years of experience to help determine if your injury meets the eligibility requirements for California workers’ compensation.
Some common types of work-related injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation include:
- Specific Injuries: Injuries that occur on the job site/due to one-time, single accidents
- Long-Term Injuries: Injuries that occur slowly over time, usually from repetitive motions in performing daily routines
- Stress-Related Injuries/Illnesses: Stress or anxiety caused by the work environment/duties
- Disease or Illness Due to Various Exposures: Most often, injuries/illnesses caused by chemical exposure at work (e.g., cleaning supplies or working with industrial chemicals)
- Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Injury or Condition: Worsening of various conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, or even a psychological disorder, due to work injuries/work-related activities
If you or a loved one suffered any type of work-related injury or occupational illness, reach out to our team at the Barkhordarian Law Firm to learn how our attorneys can help you with your workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits in California
Eligible employees who suffer work-related injuries and illnesses in California are entitled to certain benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation system.
Below, we have provided a brief overview of the various workers’ compensation benefits you may be entitled to receive:
- Medical Benefits: Workers’ compensation pays for all “reasonable and necessary” medical care related to your occupational injury or illness. This includes but is not limited to expenses associated with emergency care, ongoing treatment, rehabilitation, copays, medications, and transportation costs to and from medical appointments.
- Temporary Disability: Temporary disability benefits are paid to employees who are temporarily unable to work due to work-related injuries and illnesses. Temporary disability benefits are typically calculated based on two-thirds the worker’s average weekly wage, subject to state-set weekly maximums.
- Permanent Disability: Workers’ compensation also pays permanent partial disability (PPD) and permanent total disability (PTD) benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries and illnesses that prevent them from returning to work at full capacity or in any capacity, respectively. Visit our page on permanent disability and learn more about these types of benefits.
- Supplemental Job Displacement: Also known as vocational rehabilitation benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits are available to employees who cannot return to their past employment due to work-related injuries or illnesses. This benefit is only available when the employee’s employer does not offer alternative or light-duty (modified) work.
- Death Benefits: When an employee is killed or dies due to a work-related injury or illness, his or her surviving spouse, children, and other dependents may be entitled to death benefits through the workers’ compensation system. These include both wage replacement benefits and compensation for funeral/burial expenses.
Understanding California’s Workers’ Compensation Process
The workers’ compensation claim and appeals processes can be daunting. However, there are steps you need to take to successfully file a claim.
If you are injured or suffer a work-related illness, make sure to do the following:
- Notify Your Employer: It is important to document your injury in person or in writing right away. By law, you are required to notify your employer of your injury or illness within 30 days. The 30 days begins either on the date of injury or the date on which the injury/illness was discovered/reasonably could have been discovered.
- File a Claim: Our skilled attorneys are valuable advocates in filing a claim and will guide you through the process, ensuring everything is accurate. Note that you only have one year from the date of injury/date the injury or illness was discovered or reasonably could have been discovered to file your claim.
- Validate Your Claim: Comply with your insurance carrier or employer to investigate and validate your claim. Much of the “heavy lifting” happens during this phase. If your claim is accepted, you begin receiving monetary and medical benefits.
- Obtain MMI: Undergo a new doctor evaluation once you obtain maximum medical improvement (MMI). It is essential that you receive proper evaluation during this step to determine current and future benefits. It is wise to have an advocate on your side rather than rely on your employer’s insurance carrier to make this determination.
- Appeal (If Needed): Appeal your claim if it is denied. Let our attorneys represent you before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. We have the knowledge and experience to advocate for your rights before the judges.
At every stage of the process, our Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyers are here to provide the answers and information you need. Our goal is to eliminate your stress and move your claim through the system as efficiently as possible, all while fighting for the maximum benefits you are owed.
How a Los Angeles Workers' Comp Lawyer Can Help
At the Barkhordarian Law Firm, we are ready to guide you through the necessary procedures to ensure compliance with the applicable California workers’ compensation laws. We will fight for you every step of the way and work to help you achieve the best possible outcome.
We can help you if you have questions about filing your initial claim, have been injured in a construction accident or have suffered a permanent disability, wish to file a third-party work injury claim, have had your claim denied or your benefits terminated, or are dealing with any other workers’ compensation-related issue, dispute, or concern.
When you are injured or ill, dealing with the applicable laws to obtain much-needed medical treatment can be overwhelming. This is where we come in. At the Barkhordarian Law Firm, our lawyers fight for your rights to medical care and attention. Attaining quality care for your workplace injury or illness is paramount. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential steps on your road to recovery.
A workplace injury can have a devastating impact on you and your family. You are likely worried about your job, money, health, and family obligations. We understand what you are going through. The Barkhordarian Law Firm is dedicated to helping you through this traumatic experience. We serve as your advocate, your guide, and your support. Our workers’ compensation attorneys are committed to maintaining a close relationship with you and ensuring that you are kept abreast of everything going on throughout your claim.
To further alleviate the strain of this stressful experience, we do not charge upfront fees. We will NOT charge you if we do not obtain any form of settlement for you. Rest assured, if you are looking for a workers’ compensation attorney in Los Angeles, the Barkhordarian Law Firm is here to serve you.
Q:How much time do I have to report my injury?
A:The injured employee must report the injury to his or her employer within 30 days of the injury unless the employer knew or should have known about the injury. Failure to notify the employer of the injury will not automatically disqualify the injured worker’s case unless the employer can show that they were put at a disadvantage or damaged by the injured employee’s failure to disclose the injury within the first 30 days. The employer has the burden to show prejudice.
Q:What is my employer required to do after I have reported the injury?
A:Your employer should make medical emergency treatment available to you if needed and give you a workers’ compensation claim form to fill out within one working day after you report the injury/illness or after learning about it from another source. Your employer is also responsible for returning a copy of the claim form filled out by you and them within 24 hours of receiving it and forwarding it to their insurance company. Your employer should allow up to $10,000 in medical treatment to be administered within one day of getting the claim form while their insurance company investigates the matter.
Q:If I file a claim, will I get fired?
A:No; it is illegal for your employer to fire you or punish you in any way—including giving you bad or less hours to work, deducting pay, etc.—because you got injured at work and reported it or filed a workers’ compensation claim.
Q:What would you do for me if my employer still fires me after reporting an injury/filing a claim?
A:Despite the law guarding against this, your employer may still fire you after you report an injury or file a workers’ compensation claim. If you still get fired after reporting an injury or filing a claim, we can sue your employer for breaking the law, as well as refer you to one of our employment law attorneys who can also sue your employer for wrongful termination and possible FEHA violations. Representation by one of our employment law attorneys will also require NO OUT-OF-POCKET OR UPFRONT LEGAL FEES.
Q:What should I do if I get hurt on the job?
A:Tell your supervisor or employer immediately about the accident, fill out a workers’ compensation “claim form” (this should be offered by your employer), making sure to include all body parts involved in the injury, and call, email, or visit us right away.
Q:What happens if I get hurt and my employer doesn't have workers' comp insurance?
A:Failing to carry workers' compensation coverage is a crime punishable by up to a year in jail, fines up to $10,000, and other penalties. If you were hurt on the job and your employer does is not insured, your employer is responsible for paying all bills related to your injury or illness. If your employer is illegally uninsured and you have a work-related injury or illness, you can file a civil action against your employer in addition to filing a workers' compensation claim. You may also be able to have your expenses covered under the Uninsured Employers' Benefit Trust Fund (UEBTF). Our attorneys can help you determine all available avenues for reimbursement in this situation.
Q:Am I still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if my work accident was my own fault?
A:Yes. Regardless of whose fault it was, you are owed workers’ compensation benefits for any work-related injury or illness (mental or physical).
Q:Will I still get paid my salary while off work?
A:Yes. You are owed temporary disability payments equaling two-thirds of your gross (pre-tax) average weekly wage until the treating doctor(s) claim you are okayed to return to work and/or permanent and stationary or up to two years of temporary disability payments have already been paid out. The state has set a maximum temporary disability payment at $1,010.50 for injury dates on or after 1/1/12 and $986.69 for injuries that happened in 2011.
Q:Do I have to pay my workers’ compensation attorney at Barkhordarian Law Firm anything upfront to represent me?
A:No. Our fees are usually only 15% of your final lump-sum settlement or permanent disability award. In other words, if you do not get anything, neither do we. We are happy to discuss your fee structures and arrangements during a free initial consultation.
Q:Am I still owed workers’ compensation benefits if I was injured by another person or entity who does not work for my employer?
A:Yes, so long as you were on the job, break, lunch, or at a work-related event when the accident happened, you can still recover workers’ compensation benefits. You would also likely have a third-party claim of personal injury that would be filed against the person or party liable for your injuries.
Q:Am I still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if my injury did not happen while I was actually working?
A:Yes—even if you got hurt while on break, during lunch time, or at a company sponsored event, you may still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Q:When can I start getting my temporary disability payments?
A:You can expect to begin receiving temporary disability benefits within 14 days of when your employer learns that your injury is job-related, and your treating doctor believes that you cannot continue to perform your job duties in your current state.
Q:How long can I receive workers' compensation money?
A:Workers' compensation claims in California typically provide temporary disability benefits for up to 104 weeks, or 2 years. These 104 weeks of benefits can be spread out across a period of 5 years if they are not used consecutively. Certain severe work injuries like third-degree burns or lung diseases can extend this limit to 240 weeks of benefits. Under some workers’ compensation insurance policies, workers can receive long-term disability (LTD) benefits if they are permanently injured on the job. An LTD policy can last the rest of a worker's life, providing a portion of their usual wages and medical cost benefits each month. However, California law does not require employers to provide LTD policies to workers, only short-term disability benefits. If you are permanently injured at work, you may pursue benefits through Social Security Disability (SSD) insurance after workers' compensation benefits end.
Q:How long can I receive medical treatment through workers' compensation?
A:You may receive treatment as long as it is medically necessary, though some treatments are limited by law and must be evidence-based. California uses a set of guidelines known as a medical treatment utilization schedule (MTUS) that dictates the type, frequency, intensity, and duration of treatments for certain injuries. If your doctor determines that the treatment you need extends beyond what the MTUS dictates, they will need to submit other evidence demonstrating why the treatment is necessary.
Q:What type of medical care can I expect to receive?
A:Doctors in California's workers' compensation system are required to provide "evidence-based" medical treatment consistent with the MTUS, meaning they must choose treatments that are scientifically proven to relieve or cure work-related injuries and illnesses. This includes treatment guidelines for specific body regions as dictated by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), as well as guidelines for acupuncture and other pain management treatments. The Division of Workers' Compensation frequently updates these guidelines to incorporate new medical evidence.
Q:Will I be paid back for any out-of-pocket expenses related to my workers’ compensation case?
A:Yes. You are entitled to be paid back for every mile you drive to and from your doctor appointments and depositions, as well as for any expenses paid for parking, medication, and any other related costs.
Q:Will I have to pay for any medical treatment to cure or relieve the effects of my work-related injury?
A:No. Your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier is responsible to cover your work-related medical treatment costs—if necessary, for the rest of your life.
Q:Can I still use my Facebook, Twitter, or other social media accounts during my workers’ compensation case?
A:It is highly recommended that you shut down your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts while your workers’ compensation case is being litigated. The defense is legally allowed to look at your social media profiles and use any information from these platforms to build a case against you. Even seemingly innocuous posts or “likes” can ultimately hurt your case.
Q:Can my employer’s insurance company take surveillance video and pictures of me to try and disprove my injuries?
A:Yes, it is legal to do so and a very common practice. We strongly encourage you to protect yourself and your rights by contacting an attorney at our firm for help with your workers’ compensation case.
Q:Can I choose my own doctor if I have been hurt on the job?
A:In California, you may opt to go to your personal primary care physician if: 1) you have health coverage for medical treatment unrelated to work injuries, 2) you have given your employer written notice in advance, and 3) your doctor has agreed to treat you for work-related injuries or illnesses. If you have not predesignated a doctor, your employer's workers' compensation provider will likely require you to see a doctor within its established network of medical providers. This restriction does not apply to emergency care or if your employer has failed to provide you with certain legally required notices and information.
Q:Should I answer questions or give a statement to any representative of the adjuster or employer after I have already reported my injury?
A:It is generally not a good idea to give a statement, as what you say can be used to hurt your case. When you hire our firm, we can ensure that any statement you give is provided in a deposition where we will be there to protect you by blocking and/or clarifying any questions posed by the insurance company. If someone calls asking for a statement regarding your work injury, simply let them know that you will be ready to give one once you have hired your attorney and then end the call.
Q:Are independent contractors covered under workers' compensation?
A:No. Workers' compensation coverage in California generally only applies to employees and does not not apply to independent contractors. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for employers or insurance companies to misclassify injured workers as independent contractors in order to avoid paying benefits. If you believe you are being denied workers' compensation due to misclassification, you may have grounds to pursue legal action against your employer.
Q:Are workers' compensation benefits taxable?
A:No. Workers' compensation money is exempt from taxes in the vast majority of cases. You do not pay federal, state, or local income tax on temporary disability benefits. You also do not pay Social Security, taxes, union dues, or retirement fund contributions.
Q:When can I return to work?
A:Your doctor, your employer, and your claims adjuster will all influence your decision when it is appropriate for you to return to your job. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to return to your job in a limited capacity while you recover if your employer is willing to make certain accommodations, such as altering your hours or duties or providing new equipment. Whatever the case may be, it is important you do not rush yourself. Follow your doctor's treatment instructions closely and take the necessary time to heal to avoid worsening your condition. Likewise, you cannot be required to return to work until you are cleared to do so by your treating physician.