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Understanding California’s No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Laws

In California, if you’re injured while performing work-related duties, you typically have the right to utilize workers’ compensation benefits. The state follows a no-fault system for these cases. But what does this mean?

Essentially, under no-fault laws in California’s workers’ compensation system, injured employees can secure benefits without having to demonstrate that their employer or another employee was negligent and caused their injuries. This might sound straightforward at first read but understanding all the nuances of this system can be complicated. Here’s what you need to know.

You Must Prove You Were Injured Performing Work-Related Duties

While the no-fault system eliminates the necessity to prove another party’s negligence, you must establish that your injury occurred while executing work-related duties. Essentially this means demonstrating a clear connection between your line of work and how you were injured – it happened on the job and during working hours while performing tasks related to your role or under circumstances relating directly to employment duties.

This Excludes Commuting To and From Work

It’s critical to note that workers’ compensation does not usually cover injuries incurred during your daily commute to and from work – often referred to as the “going and coming” rule. There are exceptions under unique conditions like when you’re on a business trip or if your employer requires you to use their vehicle for work duties; however, standard commuting accidents generally aren’t included.

Other Workers’ Comp Exclusions 

It’s also important to understand the exclusions under California’s workers’ compensation laws. This system does not cover activities that violate certain established rules of conduct. For instance, if an injury happens because an employee was engaging in horseplay or as a result of self-inflicted harm, this would likely not be covered.

Similarly, injuries sustained while under the influence of drugs or alcohol generally won’t qualify for compensation benefits, and neither will those caused by deliberate violations of company policy.

Types of Workers’ Comp Benefits You Can Claim in California 

The workers’ compensation benefits you can rightfully claim in California include a wide range of categories, most often including the following:

Temporary disability payments: These compensate for a portion of the wages you’re unable to earn while recovering from work-related injuries. 

Permanent disability pay: If permanent work limitations or impairments remain after reaching maximum medical improvement, you may be entitled long-term compensation.

Travel expense reimbursement: Expenses incurred traveling for treatment – like doctor visits, hospital stays, or physical therapy sessions – are compensable.

Cost of medical treatments: Workers’ compensation should pay all necessary medical care costs directly linked to your injury. These can include hospital stays, surgical procedures, medication costs, rehabilitation services, and other related expenses.

Retraining: If your injuries prevent you from returning to your previous role but allow engagement in alternative work that requires additional skills or qualification, vocational training might also be available.

Penalties and sanctions: If an employer violates workers’ comp rules by failing to compensate valid claims, refusing to submit claims to their insurer, or engaging in discriminatory behavior based on your intent to file a claim, you may be able to fight for penalties:

When payment of compensation has been unreasonably delayed or refused, either prior to or subsequent to the issuance of an award, the amount of the payment unreasonably delayed or refused shall be increased up to 25 percent or up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000), whichever is less. In any proceeding under this section, the appeals board shall use its discretion to accomplish a fair balance and substantial justice between the parties.

These are just some examples of types of benefits an injured worker can pursue under California’s workers’ compensation laws. Each case is unique and it’s crucial you contact a Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyer to ensure you get everything you’re entitled to. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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