Workers’ Comp FAQ

Workers’ Comp FAQ

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 parts 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.

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.
  • Death Benefits. Payments to your spouse, children, or other dependents if you die from a job injury or illness.

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.

Report the injury or illness to your employer. Make sure your supervisor or someone else in management know 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.

It’s best to prevent injuries before they happen. Employers in California are required to have an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. The program must include worker training, workplace inspections, and procedures for correcting unsafe conditions promptly. Learn about and participate in your employer’s program. Report unsafe conditions to your employer and union, if you have one. If they don’t respond, call Cal/OSHA, the state agency that enforces health and safety laws.

Temporary Total Disability Benefits

Date of Injury Minimum payment Maximum Payments
2008 $137.45 per week $916.33 per week
2009 $137.45 per week $958.01 per week
2010 $148.00 per week $958.01 per week
2011 $148.00 per week $986.69 per week
2012 $151.57 per week $1,010.50 per week
2013 $160.00 per week $1,066.72 per week
2014 $161.19 per week $1,074.64 per week

Permanent Disability Benefits—Examples

The following are only examples. They apply to workers who earned more than $435 per week before injury, and whose employer has fewer than 50 employees. The examples are not adjusted for age, occupation, or other factors causing disability (“apportionment“).

Disability Injury in 2005-12 Injury in 2013 Injury in 2014
Total loss of vision in one eye, normal vision in other eye $19,665.00 (total) $27,312.50 (total) $34,437.50 (total)
Amputation of index finger at middle joint $6,210.00 (total) $7,877.50 (total) $9,932.50 (total)

Source: California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR)