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Workman's Compensation Law


Workers' compensation benefits are designed to provide you with the medical treatment you need to recover from your work related injury or illness, partially replace the wages you lose while you are recovering, and help you return to work. Workers’ compensation benefits do not include damages for pain and suffering or punitive damages.

What is workers’ compensation?

If you get hurt on the job, your employer is required by law to pay for workers’ compensation benefits. You could get hurt by:

  • One event at work. Examples: hurting your back in a fall, getting burned by a chemical that splashes on your skin, getting hurt in a car accident while making deliveries.
  • or:
  • Repeated exposures at work. Examples: hurting your hand, back, or other part of the body from doing the same motion over and over, losing your hearing because of constant loud noise.

Workers’ compensation covers some, but not all, stress-related (psychological) injuries caused by your job. Also, workers’ compensation may not cover an injury that is reported to the employer after the worker is told he or she will be terminated or laid off.

What are the benefits?

They can include:

  • Medical Care. Paid for by your employer, to help you recover from an injury or illness caused by work. This includes doctor visits and other treatment services, tests, medicines, equipment, and travel costs reasonably necessary to treat your injury.
  • Temporary Disability Benefits. Payments if you lose wages because your injury prevents you from doing your usual job while recovering.
  • Permanent Disability Benefits. Payments if you don’t recover completely and your injury causes a permanent loss of physical or mental function that a doctor can measure.
  • Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit. A voucher to help pay for retraining or skill enhancement if you are eligible to receive permanent disability benefits, your employer doesn’t offer you work, and you don’t return to work for your employer. This benefit is available for workers injured in 2004 or later. If your injury also occurred in 2013 or later and you received a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit, you may also be eligible for an additional, one-time payment under the Return-to-Work Supplement Program.
  • Death Benefits. Payments to your spouse, children, or other dependents if you die from a job injury or illness.
What should I do if I get hurt at work or develop a work-related medical problem?

Report the injury or illness to your employer. Make sure your supervisor or someone else in management knows as soon as possible. If your injury or illness developed gradually (like tendinitis or hearing loss), report it as soon as you learn or believe it was caused by your job. Reporting promptly helps avoid problems and delays in receiving benefits, including medical care. If your employer does not learn about your injury within 30 days, you could lose your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Get emergency treatment if needed. If it’s an emergency, call 911 or go to an emergency room right away. Your employer must make sure that you have access to emergency treatment right away and may tell you where to go for treatment. Tell the medical staff that your injury or illness is job-related.

Can my regular doctor treat me if I get hurt on the job?

It depends on whether you tell your employer in writing—before you are injured—the name and address of your personal physician or a medical group. This is called “predesignating.” If you predesignate, you may see your personal physician or the medical group right after you are injured.

How to predesignate

To predesignate your personal physician (if you are eligible to do so), you must notify your employer in writing. You may prepare your own written statement, use optional DWC Form 9783 provided by the Division of Workers’ Compensation, or use a form provided by your employer. To download DWC Form 9783, go to www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/forms.html.

Make sure to include the following information:

  1. Name of your employer
  2. A statement that if you are hurt on the job, you designate your personal physician to provide medical care. Give the name, address, and phone number of your physician.
  3. Your name
  4. Your signature
  5. Date

You cannot predesignate unless the physician or medical group you predesignate agrees in advance to treat you for job injuries and illnesses. You can document the agreement by having the physician, an employee of the physician, or an employee of the medical group sign the predesignation form, or by some other form of documentation. Include the documentation when you give your employer the predesignation form or statement.

Did you know?
  • Medical care must be paid for by your employer if you get hurt on the job—whether or not you miss time from work.
  • You may be eligible to receive benefits even if you are a temporary or part-time worker.
  • You may be covered by workers’ compensation as an employee even if you are called an “independent contractor.”
  • You don’t have to be a legal resident of the United States to receive most workers’ compensation benefits.
  • You receive benefits no matter who was at fault for your job injury.
  • You can’t sue your employer for a job injury (in most cases).
  • It’s illegal for your employer to punish or fire you for having a job injury or for requesting workers’ compensation benefits when you believe your injury was caused by your job.

California employers are required by law to have workers' compensation insurance, even if they have only one employee. And, if your employees get hurt or sick because of work, you are required to pay for workers' compensation benefits. Workers' comp insurance provides basic benefits, including medical care, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits and a return-to-work supplement, and death benefits.

The vast majority of workers' compensation claims are resolved without any problems. However, sometimes a disagreement can arise between you and your employee over issues such as whether the injury was sustained on the job or how much in benefits they are entitled to receive.

We are here to help.

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