What You Need to Know About California Workers’ Compensation Laws

When it comes to receiving compensation for a work-caused injury or illness, it is important that proper retribution is given. It is important to understand what types of benefits an individual is entitled to depending on their unique situation, and what their employer is required to pay them in lost wages. There are several types of benefits that may be available under workers’ compensation, and key things to know about the availability of insurance under California law. Here’s everything you need to know about California workers’ compensation laws.

Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance Required in California?

As stated by the California Department of Industrial Relations, all employers in the State of California are required to either purchase a workers’ compensation insurance policy from a licensed insurer authorized to write policies by the state, or they must become self-insured. This fact holds true no matter how many workers an employee may have, as this is to ensure compensation benefits will be paid to workers in the event of injury or illness on the job. Additional statements on this requirement of compensation payments to workers can be found under California Labor Code Section 3700. Furthermore, California law requires employers to have workers’ comp insurance because it provides basic benefits to employees, including medical care, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits, and death benefits. For out-of-state employers, compensation coverage may be necessary if they have employees regularly working in California.

Related: How Long Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

What is the Penalty for Not Having Workers’ Compensation Insurance in California?

If a worker discovers that their employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, they may report this to the nearest office of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Failure to have workers’ compensation insurance in California is considered to be a criminal offense, as this violates the California Labor Code. As a result, employers who are in violation of this may face imprisonment in county jail for up to a year, or deal with a fine that is up to double the amount of workers’ compensation premium that would have covered the uninsured period. California employers that do not purchase workers’ compensation may be issued a stop order by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. A stop order would result in business operations being shut down until workers’ compensation insurance can be purchased. Additional fines may also be assessed by the DLSE as well.

What Financial Benefits Am I Entitled To?

As briefly mentioned earlier, there are several types of workers’ compensation benefits available in California. They include:

Medical Care

Medical expenses and additional treatment costs are covered by the workers’ compensation programs. This coverage may be applicable to aspects such as medical evaluations, prescription drugs, and transportation costs to seek treatment.

Temporary disability benefits

Also known as TD, these types of payments are given to an injured worker for time off resulting from an injury. TD payments are made based on two-thirds of the average weekly wage of the work and can be paid for a maximum of two years after the date of injury.

Permanent disability benefits

These benefits are paid to workers whose work-related injury has permanently affected their ability to return to work or find a new job.

Supplemental job displacement benefits

These benefits are also called vocational retraining costs, and apply to workers who can no longer return to their previous job and were not offered alternative employment by their employers.

Death benefits

This type of benefit is owed to dependents or spouses of employees who have been as a result of work-related activity, and will cover any necessary expenses for burial arrangements.

For individuals who plan on or currently work in California, understanding the workers’ compensation laws in place will allow for a better understanding of the requirements held to employers, as well as any potential benefits that a worker may be eligible to receive.

Related: Workers’ Compensation: File and Prove a Claim

FAQs About California Workers’ Compensation Laws

Are there any entitlements for employees outside of workers’ compensation?

Depending on the individual circumstances and nature of their compensation claim, workers may be eligible for other forms of benefits such as state disability insurance benefits (SDI) and social security disability benefits (SSDI). Another option for workers may be a court judgment or settlement from a lawsuit against a third party. It may be beneficial to speak with an experienced attorney to fully understand what benefits you may be entitled to, depending on your circumstances.

When should I report a workers’ compensation claim?

It is most effective to report the injury or illness acquired from a work-related activity as soon as you can. Unless a written notice is given to your employer within 30 days of the injury date, you may lose your rights to workers’ compensation benefits. Furthermore, it is then up to the employer to file a claim within one day of learning about their employee’s illness or injury.

How is my ability to return to work determined?

It is incredibly important to ensure an individual is fit to return to work, as this will help avoid any financial losses from missed work, and will also make sure they are recovered enough to return to their usual activities. Several people will decide when you are ready and able to return to work and how much you are allowed to do, including your treating doctor, managers who represent your employer, and the claims administrator handling your claim for your employer.

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If you have any more questions about California workers’ compensation laws, contact us. We’ll get you in touch with the most qualified attorneys for your unique legal matter. Get your free consultation with one of our Work Injury Attorneys in California today!