If you were injured at work, reach out to a workers compensation attorney in Santa Ana, California. The workers comp process can be taxing and confusing, but a personal injury attorney in Santa Ana CA can make it simpler. You don't have to figure matters out by yourself, and you aren't alone.
In fact, in 2019, 55,477 Orange County residents (out of the nearly 700,000 state reports) filed claims for workers compensation benefits. Fortunately, attorneys certified in California workers comp laws can help you, and Accident.com can connect you with an experienced work injury lawyer today.
The Basics of Santa Ana Workers Compensation
A workers compensation attorney in Santa Ana will tell you that workers comp is state-required insurance that provides benefits to employees injured while working. The employer purchases the insurance through insurance companies. In California, every employer — even small companies — must have workers comp insurance for their employees. This means a business even with just one employee still must have it. Out-of-state employers who hire employees to work in California must provide workers comp insurance as well.
The most common workers comp benefits are:
- Medical expenses.
- Temporary disability.
- Permanent disability.
- Retraining or supplemental job displacement services.
- Death benefits.
It's important to see a doctor about your injury right away. When choosing a doctor, keep in mind that some insurance providers have a medical provider network (MPN), which is a group of approved health care providers who can treat work injuries. For questions about MPN, contact the Santa Ana office of the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC):
2 MacArthur Place, Suite 600
Santa Ana, CA 92707-7704
You can choose your MPN doctor after your first visit. If you don't like that doctor's diagnosis, you can get a second or third opinion from different MPN doctors. In the event that you still disagree, you can request a medical review. However, if you reach this point, talk with a workers comp attorney in Santa Ana CA. They can help you determine what the best next step would be for your claim.
Proving a Work Injury Under California Law
Workers comp is a “no-fault” system, which means you and your workers compensation attorney in Santa Ana don't need to prove someone else did something wrong. You only need to prove that your injury occurred at work. Some injuries, like broken bones, are obvious and easier to prove. However, other injuries may be more complicated to tie to your work, such as:
- Cumulative injuries or illnesses.
- Mental health conditions.
- Injuries to employees who had prior disabilities or impairments.
A Closer Look at What Qualifies as a Work Injury
Some illnesses take time to appear. For example, some jobs involve working around dust, gasses or other air particles. This can cause respiratory problems, such as “farmer’s lung,” tuberculosis, occupational asthma and more. Workers comp covers these illnesses, even though it may take a little time to prove the connection to work.
California’s workers comp insurance also covers mental health conditions. The state recognizes two main types:
- Mental/Physical: Mental health problems related to physical injuries or sudden, extraordinary events.
- Mental/Mental: Mental health problems from regular and routine employment events that are unrelated to any physical injuries.
The mental health problems from regular employment events without any physical injuries aren't covered unless the employee has worked at the company for at least six months.
For those who had an impairment or disability before your work injury, you're still entitled to workers comp. The Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF) encourages employers to hire individuals with prior disabilities or impairments.
Without this fund, employers may avoid hiring these employees out of fear that a new, small injury could cause a large workers comp claim and increase their insurance rates. Fortunately, this fund frees employers to hire workers who have prior disabilities or impairments. It pays benefits if the original and new disabilities together create a permanent disability of more than 70%.
Workers comp covers work injuries, even if they're less obviously related or weren't a result of one big accident. A workers compensation attorney in Santa Ana can help you gather the proper documentation to receive benefits. Contact Accident.com to connect with a work injury lawyer today.
Remember That Medical Care Is Most Important
After a work injury, get the medical care you need as soon as possible. Your health and safety are the top concern. To make sure you're safe, and to make the claims process easier, be sure to see a doctor even if you feel okay. You don't want to wake up one day, weeks later, when your work injury finally appears. By then, it may be more difficult to fully recover, and your workers comp claim may be in jeopardy.
When getting medical help, tell your doctor your injury was from work. California law requires the first doctors who treat work injuries to file a Doctor’s First Report of Occupational Injury or Illness (DFR). This form has to be submitted within five days of the initial exam, yet another reason to seek prompt medical treatment. The sooner you treat your injuries, the sooner you'll feel better, and the sooner your doctor sends in the paperwork for your claim!
A Santa Ana Workers Comp Lawyer Can Help With Common Disputes
Usually, the biggest disagreements about workers comp benefits are how severe the injury is and how long the injury lasts. This affects how many benefits are paid for the work injury. The simplest way you can build this part of your workers comp claim is to do what your doctor tells you. You should follow your doctor's instructions so you recover as much as possible from your injury, but it's also important for your workers compensation attorney in Santa Ana to help with your claim.
In fact, if you don't follow through with treatment for your injuries for a long time, the workers comp insurance company might think you got better. If you then try to get more medical care, workers comp might deny your claim. By seeking medical care right away and working with a personal injury attorney in Santa Ana, CA, you can avoid disputes and pursue your entitled benefits quicker.
Report Your Injury and Complete the DWC-1
In addition to seeing a doctor, report your injury to your human resources department as soon as you can. You have only 30 days to do so. After that timeframe, you may lose your right to workers comp benefits. Besides, reporting the injury right away decreases the chance your employer may doubt that your injury happened at work. So, the sooner you can report the injury to your employer, the better off you'll be.
Your employer is required to give you a California Workers Compensation Claim Form DWC-1 within one day of learning about your injury. If you don't receive it from your employer, find it online. The California DWC oversees the program, and the district office and appeal board in Santa Ana (phone and address above) can answer any questions you may have.
You must fill out the form, sign it and return it to your employer so they can notify the workers comp insurance company. You should keep a copy of the form for your records and your Santa Ana workers comp attorney.
A Breakdown of Santa Ana Work Injuries
A workers compensation attorney in Santa Ana will understand the demographics of the area and use their expertise to help you.
Santa Ana has more than 13,000 businesses located in the city. Some of Santa Ana’s industries include production, factories and machinery. These goods-producing industries account for 18.4% of workers comp claims in California.
Santa Ana has many industries with jobs that don't have the risk of injury, at least at first glance. For example, as the seat of Orange County, Santa Ana has offices for the county, state and federal governments. More than 100,000 (20%) workers comp claims in California in 2019 came from employees of state and local governments. Another major industry in Santa Ana is banking and finance. Employees in the banking and finance industry filed about 3% of the workers comp claims in California (or 17,100 claims).
The most common type of work comp injury is a fall. Employees can trip over desk drawers, computer cords and file boxes. You may even use a desk chair for a quick task instead of a ladder — and fall when it spins. Other common office injuries are related to lifting and the long-term effect of bad posture while seated at a desk.
California Disability Insurance Versus Workers Comp
While many California laws are similar to those in other states, there are some differences. For example, you may be entitled to additional benefits in California, such as:
- California State Disability Insurance (SDI).
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
- Personal injury claim against a third party.
California’s SDI program replaces some wage loss for certain California workers. It's deducted from employees’ wages and usually shows as “CASDI” on a paystub. It provides short-term wage replacement when someone is unable to work due to illness, injury or pregnancy. If the workers comp process is delayed or they deny your claim, you may be able to receive SDI benefits through the state.
Most people cannot receive SDI and workers comp benefits at the same time. However, if your workers comp benefit is smaller than the total SDI benefit, you may be able to receive the difference as well as the workers comp benefit. Your workers compensation attorney in Santa Ana may also look into your eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Like SDI, you cannot “stack” workers comp benefits on top of SSDI benefits.
You also may have a personal injury claim if someone unrelated to your employer caused your injury. These types of claims often involve employees who are in a car accident while driving for work. Examples include a semi-truck driver, a pizza delivery driver or drivers for rideshare apps. You would have a claim against the other driver who caused the crash and a claim for workers comp benefits. However, you cannot get a “double recovery” for certain matters.
It may be difficult to know what path you should take, but you're not alone. A workers compensation attorney in Santa Ana, California can help you navigate the different benefits you may receive besides workers comp.
Employer With No Workers Comp Insurance? A Workers Comp Attorney in Santa Ana Can Help
In California, every company is required to have workers comp insurance for their employees — but what if your employer did not purchase the insurance? If employers are illegally uninsured, their injured employees may receive workers comp benefits through the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF). This is a special government trust fund with extra processes. It helps injured California employees who were supposed to have workers comp insurance, but whose employers broke the law and didn't get the insurance
If you suspect your employer did not purchase workers comp insurance for you, talk with an Accident.com attorney today. A personal injury attorney in Santa Ana, CA can help you determine how to move forward.
A Potential Update to California Workers Comp
Laws are always changing, and workers comp is no different. For example, in March 2021, a California state senator proposed changes to shorten the time employers have to object to an employee getting benefits. One proposal cuts the time in half! The senator is also trying to significantly increase benefits that can be paid between filing an injury and when the claim is processed - from $10,000 to $17,000.
Hire a Specialist Workers Compensation Attorney in Santa Ana
Unlike many states, California allows some lawyers to be certified as specialists in California workers comp law. The Board of Legal Specialization oversees the process. Attorneys must take an additional examination, provide references and demonstrate a high level of experience in the specialty.
Visit Accident.com today and fill out the quick form on your phone, tablet or computer. Accident.com's algorithm will connect you with a workers compensation attorney in Santa Ana. The Santa Ana workers comp lawyer will contact you right away for a free, no-obligation consultation. Find out for free whether it's worth pursuing your work comp claim. Don't wait. Remember that there are deadlines for filing claim paperwork.