What is Workers’ Compensation and How Does it Work?

Sometimes, it is not until you are involved in a workplace accident, or suffer an illness related to your job, that you ask: what is workers’ compensation? If you live in California, the answer you find can be much different from other states.  

Why Do Workers’ Compensation Systems Exist?

Anyone can get hurt in their place of business – even office workers who do not do any heavy lifting or drive machinery. Given how easy it can be to be involved in an incident or accident, employers could find themselves continually embroiled in lawsuits. These can be costly for both the worker and the employer.

As a result, all employers in California are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance stops business owners from being sued while making sure the injured worker is adequately compensated for the pain and suffering, they experienced. It can be purchased privately or through the State Compensation Insurance Fund.

How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?

If a worker is injured at a job site or contracts an illness from their job, the employee will receive a workers’ compensation claim form from their employer within one working day. Both the worker and employer fill out the form, and the worker sends it to a claims administrator for processing, along with a report of the accident.

Within one working day, the worker can receive up to $10,000 in medical treatment if it is required. Once this step takes place, a doctor will evaluate the worker and send a report to the claims administrator outlining their injuries and condition. Ultimately, this report evaluates whether they are fit to return to work or whether some modifications to their duties must be made.

What Should an Employer Do After an Accident or Illness?

If injuries or illnesses at your workplace are not all that common, your employer may not naturally know what to do when they happen. They must follow some of these steps below.

  1. Provide a compensation claim form
  2. Return the completed form to the employee within one working day of receipt
  3. Make sure the injured worker has an initial medical evaluation
  4. Forward the claim form and accident report to the claims administrator
  5. Authorize up to $10,000 in medical treatment
  6. Provide light-duty work where appropriate
  7. Give notice of compensation eligibility within one working day, if the worker is the victim of a crime at work

California Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Some workers in California may not find it fair that they cannot sue their workplace for losses resulting from their injury or illness. However, workers’ compensation provides many benefits. If eligible, you may be able to have your present and future medical treatment costs covered, receive temporary or permanent disability payments, life pension payments, retraining costs, or death benefits for dependents or spouses.

What’s more, if you have the right workers’ compensation attorney on your side, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against a third party involved or try to receive state disability insurance benefits or Social Security disability benefits.

To understand your rights and entitlements after a workplace incident, it can be worth discussing your situation with a Garden Grove worker’s comp attorney. Schedule a free consultation to find out more.