Not all employers make understanding workers’ compensation law easy. In these situations, the lines can be blurry between your responsibility and your employers when it comes to securing your work injury benefits. Fortunately, California law is very clear about where responsibility lies.
Employer Responsibility Before an Injury Occurs
According to California Labor Code Section 3700. All employers must provide workers’ compensation benefits to their employees. This means if you are an employee of a company, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, this law does not extend to independent contractors. In addition to having a plan in case an injury occurs, California also requires companies to have injury and illness prevention programs. These programs should include:
- Workplace inspections
- Preset procedures of how to correct dangerous work environments
Employer Responsibility After an Injury
If an injury or illness should occur, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can be broken into five main categories:
- Medical care
- Temporary disability benefits
- Permanent disability benefits
- Death benefits
These benefits cover the cost of your medical expenses to reasonably treat or relieve your work-related injury or illness. How much of your expenses will be covered varies from situation to situation, but in general medical professionals must follow a set of regulations called the medical treatment utilization schedule in order for your expenses to be covered.
Temporary Disability Benefits
These benefits cover the wages you lose by temporarily being unable to work. For example, if you break your leg while on the job and your job requires that you are able to walk around freely, you will most likely be able to recover wages for the time you are unable to work while your leg heals. In California, you can recover two-thirds of your pre-tax wages under temporary disability benefits.
Permanent Disability Benefits
These benefits cover expenses that result from a permanent disability. While permanent disability benefits may not cover all your expenses, as the amount you will receive is determined by law, they are recoverable even if you are able to return to work.
These benefits are paid out to your spouse, children, or other dependents. The amount of benefits paid out depends on the number of dependents the deceased had.
What Happens if My Employer is Uninsured?
Since companies are required by law to have worker’s compensation insurance, if they fail to do so the company will more than likely have to pay for your workers’ compensation benefits out of their own pocket. Additionally, it is a criminal offense in California to not have workers’ compensation insurance and therefore an uninsured company could face fines and other criminal penalties.