Bakersfield Workers Compensation Attorney

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Navigating Workers’ Comp Claims with a Top Bakersfield Workers Compensation Attorney

Injured at work and need help right now? A Bakersfield workers compensation attorney is your advocate for navigating claims, negotiating with insurance companies, and ensuring you get the compensation you deserve. This article will guide you on how these legal experts can help streamline your claim process and fight for your rights, every step of the way.

Key Takeaways

  • California’s workers’ compensation system mandates that all Bakersfield employers must carry insurance and provides benefits on a no-fault basis, covering medical care and various disability and death benefits.
  • Experienced Bakersfield workers’ compensation attorneys can assist with claim navigation, often working on a contingency basis, which makes legal services financially accessible to clients.
  • Workers injured on the job should immediately report the injury, seek medical treatment, and file the necessary paperwork to secure their compensation benefits, with specific procedures for reporting and treatment adherence outlined by state regulations.

Understanding Workers Compensation in Bakersfield

Bakersfield Workers Compensation Attorney

Bakersfield Workers Compensation Attorney. Call for a Free Consultation Toll Free (877) 659-9223

Every employer in Bakersfield, be it a tiny start-up with just one employee or a massive corporation, is legally bound to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This requirement even extends to out-of-state employers whose employees work in California, and roofers without employees.

California’s workers’ compensation system operates on a no-fault basis, meaning if you are injured or fall ill due to your job, you are entitled to benefits, regardless of who is at fault. These benefits cover medically proven treatments that cure or relieve work-related injuries or illnesses. But it’s not just about medical care.

Workers’ compensation in Bakersfield offers a range of benefits including, temporary and permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits, and even death benefits. Failing to provide these mandated insurance benefits can land employers in hot water, opening them up to lawsuits for injuries sustained.

Selecting a Skilled Bakersfield Workers Compensation Lawyer

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Bakersfield Workers Compensation Lawyer

Navigating the complexities that encompass workers’ compensation claims can be simplified with the guidance of a skilled legal counsel. Especially when you’re up against insurance companies that may attempt to deny claims.

An experienced Bakersfield workers compensation lawyer can help injured workers pursue and secure settlements that reflect the severity and impact of their workplace injuries.

State Law Firm, for example, has demonstrated proficiency in achieving favorable outcomes for workers’ compensation claimants in Bakersfield, thanks to their vast experience handling such cases. What’s more, securing such skilled legal help doesn’t have to break the bank. Many workers’ compensation lawyers in Bakersfield, including those at State Law Firm, operate on a contingency basis.

This means clients only pay if they recover benefits, making skilled legal help financially accessible.

Importance of Experience

Selecting a workers compensation lawyer in Bakersfield requires consideration of experience as a key factor. A lawyer’s successful track record in handling similar cases speaks volumes about their ability to navigate the system and secure favorable outcomes for their clients.

Take the State Law Firm, for example.

Their years of experience in representing injured workers showcase their substantial expertise across a wide array of workers’ compensation cases. This depth of expertise enables them to provide robust representation, ensuring that their clients’ rights are upheld throughout the claims process.

Understanding Legal Fees

A comprehensive understanding of the fee structure is necessary when hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer in Bakersfield. Typically, these attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. This means that the client only pays attorney fees if they win the case.

Moreover, these contingency fees are a percentage of the award, usually ranging between 9% and 12%, with a cap at 15% of the client’s settlement.

Every attorney fee is regulated. Clients are required to sign a Fee Disclosure Statement, and fees must be approved by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. The board considers factors like the lawyer’s performance, the time invested, and the results obtained when approving fees. In certain cases, attorneys may charge 5710 fees for their services, which are the responsibility of the insurance company, and can amount to up to $500 per hour.

Essential Steps After a Workplace Injury

In the event of a workplace injury, certain steps are crucial for you to take as an injured worker. Immediate notification of the injury to your employer is paramount. This helps establish the timeline for workers’ compensation benefits and fulfills the requirement of reporting the injury within 30 days for eligibility.

In addition to reporting the injury, obtaining immediate medical attention is crucial, both for your well-being and to provide proper documentation for the workers’ compensation claim. In Bakersfield, the cost of this medical care is covered by workers’ compensation insurance.

The final step involves paperwork. After an injury, you must fill out and promptly submit the Division of Workers’ Compensation Form 1, which is necessary to officially start the claim process.

Reporting Your Injury

Reporting is a critical step. You should notify your supervisor as soon as possible after an injury, even if the injury or illness developed gradually. This notification should happen as soon as you learn or believe it was caused by your job.

Reporting your injury as soon as possible to your employer is necessary to obtain and maximize workers’ comp benefits, as California law requires reporting within 30 days of the accident.

Failure to report an injury within 30 days could lead to the loss of the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Employers are also obligated to provide injured workers with a workers’ compensation claim form within one day of the injury.

Time limits for filing a claim for injuries involving cumulative trauma begin when the employee becomes aware of the injury or illness. They must also know or should have been aware that it was caused by their job.

Seeking Medical Treatment

Seeking medical treatment, which is the second step, is vitally important. In case of a work-related injury or illness, emergency treatment should be sought immediately, with the medical staff being informed that the injury or illness is job-related. For non-emergencies, first aid and a subsequent doctor visit are necessary.

Workers’ compensation insurance in California covers all necessary medical care expenses, including hospital bills, medications, and rehabilitation services. Employers are required to ensure the provision of medical care right after a claim is filed. Injured workers must adhere to the Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule and, when applicable, select a doctor from the employer’s Medical Provider Network or Health Care Organization to manage care and facilitate the return to work.

Workers comp insurance plays a crucial role in this process. If a claim is denied, workers should consult with an attorney, who can help execute a lien form for medical providers to delay payment until the claim settlement or advise on treatment outside the Medical Provider Network.

It’s crucial to remember that as an injured worker, you have the right in Bakersfield to have medical expenses related to a work-related injury paid for.

Types of Workers Compensation Benefits Available

Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits Illustration

Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits Illustration

Upon reporting your injury and seeking medical treatment, you may wonder which workers’ compensation benefits you qualify for. In Bakersfield, injured workers may be entitled to various benefits aimed at addressing medical care needs and compensating for lost wages and disabilities caused by work-related incidents.

Benefits under workers’ compensation in California typically equal two-thirds of the injured employee’s pre-tax gross wages, up to a legally determined maximum.

Law firms like the State Law Firm can help injured workers in their claims for receiving benefits such as:

  • Temporary disability
  • Permanent disability
  • Supplemental job displacement
  • Death benefits

Permanent disability payments are determined based on the individual’s disability rating and their earnings before the injury.

If a worker dies from a work-related injury or illness, their dependents could be eligible for death benefits, which also cover reasonable burial expenses. For totally dependent minors, death benefits are provided until the youngest minor reaches the age of 18, or for a lifetime if the minor is disabled. Death benefits in California are paid at the total temporary disability rate, with a minimum weekly payment stipulated. The deadline for initiating death benefits claims varies but generally falls within one year from either the date of death or the date of the last benefits provision, with a cap of 240 weeks from the injury date.

Temporary Disability Benefits

Temporary disability benefits in California are divided into two categories: temporary total disability (TTD) and temporary partial disability (TPD), with benefits available up to 104 weeks within a five-year period from the date of injury.

The calculation for temporary total disability benefits is two-thirds of pre-tax weekly earnings before the injury, with a cap. For 2024, the minimum rate is $242 per week and the maximum rate is $1,619 per week.

Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits are applicable when an injured worker can perform some work but earns less due to the injury. The calculation considers the wage difference between pre-injury earnings and reduced post-injury capacity.

Permanent Disability Payments

Permanent disability benefits begin once an injured worker is declared ‘permanent and stationary’, indicating that maximum medical improvement has been reached. A permanent disability rating, which determines the extent of benefits, is based on a medical evaluator’s report and factors such as the injury date, the worker’s age, occupation, the work-related nature of the injury, and reduced future earning capacity.

The amount of permanent disability benefits can be adjusted by 15% depending on whether the employer with more than 50 employees offers the injured worker suitable work for at least 12 months. And in cases of serious and permanent injuries, there are two types of permanent disability benefits: permanent total disability (PTD) and permanent partial disability (PPD).

Importantly, permanent disability benefits are not subject to federal or state income tax, potentially affecting the net income of individuals receiving these benefits.

Injured workers with a high permanent disability rating of between 70% to 99% may be entitled to life pension payments following the exhaustion of other permanent disability payments.

Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits

Workers with a permanent partial disability from a work-related injury post-January 1, 2004, and not given alternative work by their employer, are eligible for the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit.

The non-transferable SJDB voucher can be used at state-approved or accredited schools for educational retraining or skill enhancement. Eligible workers for the SJDB voucher may access additional support through the Return to Work Supplement Program and find Approved SJDB Training Providers listed either on the CalJOBS website or under the BPPE.

The voucher’s value ranges from $4,000 to $10,000 based on the level of permanent disability and must be utilized within two years of issuance or five years from the injury date.

Common Workplace Injuries Covered by Workers Comp

Workplace injury covered by workers comp

Workplace injury covered by workers comp

Workers’ compensation in Bakersfield covers a wide range of workplace injuries, including:

  • Falls
  • Car accidents
  • Chemical splashes
  • Injuries resulting from repeated exposure
  • Back injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Brain injuries
  • Unsafe work conditions
  • Continuous trauma
  • Accidental death

Physical injuries from specific events, hypertension, heart disease, and exposure to toxic chemicals or fumes are also recognized for workers’ compensation claims. Construction workers, for instance, face risks from:

  • slips and falls
  • fires and explosions
  • trench collapses
  • burns
  • spinal cord injuries
  • cuts and lacerations
  • loss of limbs

These risks can lead to severe injuries and even loss of limbs.

Common construction-related injuries in Bakersfield occur from being trapped or caught in between heavy machinery, materials, or immovable objects.

Severe injuries such as traumatic brain injuries often stem from struck-by-object incidents, involving falling tools, materials, or debris. Moreover, workers’ compensation in Bakersfield extends to illnesses, including those contracted due to workplace toxin exposure, highlighted by the prominence of COVID as a workplace hazard.

The scope of workers’ compensation in Bakersfield ensures coverage for a broad range of workplace injuries and illnesses, necessitating careful claim documentation.

Filing a Third-Party Claim Alongside Workers Comp

In Bakersfield, an injured worker may file a third-party claim against an entity other than their employer if that entity caused or contributed to their injury, in addition to their workers’ compensation claim. Third parties that can be held responsible for a workplace injury might include:

  • Manufacturers of defective products
  • Property owners
  • Subcontractors
  • Municipal entities

These potential third parties can be identified by experienced workers’ comp attorneys.

Attorneys in Bakersfield are equipped to navigate the legal complexities of simultaneously filing for workers’ comp benefits and pursuing lawsuits against multiple third-parties, ensuring all avenues for compensation are explored. In cases known as ‘crossover cases,’ such as when an employee is involved in a car accident while on the job, local attorneys provide representation to address both the workers’ comp claim and the third-party liability.

Rights of Undocumented Workers Under California Law

All workers in California, including undocumented workers, have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. This encompasses medical treatment, various disability benefits, and maintaining a fair legal process without considering legal status.

Undocumented workers in California are protected under labor laws from discrimination due to immigration status. This includes the right to file a retaliation complaint and the assurance that their immigration status cannot be used against them in labor law enforcement. While there are no criminal or civil penalties for employing undocumented workers in relation to workers’ compensation, falsely claiming the right to work in the U.S. does not equate to committing workers’ compensation fraud in California.

The Uninsured Employers Benefit Trust Fund ensures that undocumented workers in California receive workers’ compensation benefits even if their employer is uninsured and unable to pay.

What to Do When a Workers Comp Claim Is Denied

If a workers’ comp claim is denied, it’s vital to remain calm. Remember, seeking legal representation is crucial in workers’ comp claims due to legal complexities and to prevent power imbalances against insurance firms. A workers’ compensation attorney can ensure compliance with court procedures to reduce the chance of errors that could compromise the appeal. Experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can offer guidance and support through the entirety of the appeals process.

After a claim is denied, Bakersfield workers compensation lawyers may help file an adjudication of claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation to contest the denial. Priority conferences can be scheduled for disputes related to workplace injuries, leading to quicker dispute resolutions. During an appellate hearing, a WCAB judge will hear arguments, and a claim can be approved if the judge sides with the claimant.

If the WCAB denies the claim, further appeals to a Circuit or Superior Court may be pursued. Disagreements regarding medical benefits may lead to evaluations by medical evaluators, and disputes over supplemental job displacement benefits have specific resolution channels.

Impact of Workers Compensation on Employment

California’s workers’ compensation system includes provisions that legally protect injured workers from retaliation for filing a claim. California laws safeguard employees from retaliation by their employers for exercising their workplace safety rights, such as:

  • filing a workers’ compensation claim
  • reporting workplace hazards
  • participating in workplace safety committees
  • refusing to perform unsafe work

These protections ensure that workers can exercise their rights without fear of reprisal from their employers.

Protected forms of retaliation under California law encompass:

  • Wrongful termination
  • Suspension
  • A reduction in hours or salary
  • Threats related to immigration status

Retaliation complaints should be filed within one year of the retaliatory action, with various options for submission available including online, mail, email, phone, or fax to the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

When preparing to file a retaliation complaint, an employee should gather evidence that demonstrates the adverse actions taken by the employer and any change in employment conditions after exercising labor rights.

Maximizing Your Financial Compensation

Engaging a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer is key to safeguarding an injured worker’s health and financial interests from insurers who may attempt to limit payouts. Experienced workers’ comp attorneys:

  • Level the playing field against insurance companies’ legal teams
  • Help claimants receive fair compensation
  • Prevent the unlawful termination of income benefits by insurance companies
  • Safeguard an injured worker’s financial stability

To maximize workers’ comp benefits in California, it’s crucial to hire experienced representation from a qualified workers’ comp attorney. Workers’ compensation attorneys assist clients in pursuing compensation for:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Disability benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation

Keeping detailed records of all aspects related to your work injury, including medical treatment and conversations with supervisors, is key for a successful workers’ comp claim.

Handling Personal Injury Claims Alongside Workers Comp

While workers’ compensation is usually the sole remedy for work-related injuries in California, specific exceptions do permit additional legal action. Injured workers can sue their employers if the injuries are due to intentional acts, employer fraud, or dangerous alterations to equipment like power presses.

Under the dual capacity doctrine, an employer can be sued for personal injuries when they are liable in a capacity other than that of an employer, such as when an injury is caused by a product they manufacture. Consulting a knowledgeable attorney is crucial for injured workers considering a personal injury claim in addition to a workers’ comp claim to navigate the complex legal exceptions.

Summary

Navigating workers’ compensation in Bakersfield need not be a daunting task. Understanding the basics of workers’ compensation, knowing the importance of selecting a skilled lawyer, and being aware of the steps to take after a workplace injury can empower injured workers. Remember, you have rights, and with the right guidance, you can navigate this complex system and secure the compensation you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a lawyer for workers compensation case in Florida?

In most cases, you shouldn’t need a lawyer for a workers’ compensation case in Florida if the employer has workers’ comp insurance, as it should cover medical costs and lost wages related to the injury.

What is the attorney fees for workers compensation in California?

In California, attorney fees for workers’ compensation typically range between 9% and 12%, but the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board has approved 15% attorney fees for many years. My office, along with other workers’ compensation lawyers in the Los Angeles area, charge and receive a 15% fee.

What percentage does a workers comp attorney get in Florida?

In Florida, workers’ compensation attorneys typically receive 20% of the first $5,000 of secured benefits, 15% of the next $5,000, and 5-10% of the remaining amount, based on the time taken to secure the benefits.

What types of injuries are covered under workers’ compensation in Bakersfield?

Workers’ compensation in Bakersfield covers a wide range of workplace injuries, including falls, car accidents, chemical splashes, injuries from repeated exposure, specific events, hypertension, heart disease, and exposure to toxic chemicals or fumes.

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