Workers' compensation has been a crucial insurance program in ensuring that employees and employers are protected in workplace accidents. Despite the continuing downtrend of recorded workplace injuries, fatalities, and illnesses since 2019, records still show 4,764 worker fatalities and 1.8 million injuries and illnesses in 2020.
Without workers' comp benefits, an injured employee may be unable to afford medical treatment and recover immediately. On the other hand, employers may face legal and financial repercussions if a worker gets seriously injured. Fortunately, workers' comp coverage in California is mandatory.
To learn more about workers' compensation benefits in California, read the article below.
How Does Workers' Compensation In California Work?
Employees in California are eligible for workers' comp benefits if they suffered a work-related illness or injury. A severe occupational illness or injury may require retraining or supplemental benefits compensation, even if the goal is to help your worker return to their pre-injury job.
The amount employees receive for their workers' comp payment is based on their average weekly wage (AWW). Hence, the final amount may vary depending on their AWW and the kind of benefit they're eligible for.
Different Kinds Of Workers' Comp Benefits In California?
Based on the workers' compensation laws in California, an employee may be entitled to receive the following benefits if they sustained an injury at the workplace:
- Medical Care Coverage: provides healthcare and treatment for your injury
- Temporary Disability Benefits: offers compensation for lost wages
- Permanent Disability Benefits: provides compensation for permanent loss of bodily functions
- Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits: offers a voucher for retraining or upskilling
In some instances, you may also qualify for mileage reimbursement when you are required to travel long distances to acquire medical treatment.
In California, injured employees are entitled to the medical care essential to treating their injuries and mitigating their adverse effects. Employers or their private insurance companies are responsible for paying for any medical treatment or procedures necessary to treat injuries sustained at work.
At no stage throughout your recovery should you be required to pay for any medical expenses you might incur due to your work-related injury.
Temporary Disability Benefits
For injured employees, temporary disability payments serve as safety nets. If a work-related injury or occupational illness impedes your ability to work, you may be entitled to temporary disability benefits. Generally speaking, temporary disability payments are not taxable and equal to two-thirds of your gross income.
Temporary disability benefits are not applied immediately. Before you qualify for temporary disability, your treating physician must first certify that your work-related injury prevents you from performing your regular work duties for more than three days.
Permanent Disability Benefits
Injured employees who cannot carry out their usual work activities before the injury are awarded permanent disability benefits. Payments for permanent disability are calculated without regard to short-term disability compensation or medical care expenses. The compensation amount for lifelong disability varies depending on an employee's medical condition.
An impairment number, ranging from 25% to 100%, is assigned by your physician when your work-related injury or occupational illness is determined to result in permanent disability.
Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits
A supplemental job displacement benefit voucher (SJDBV) is provided to employees who cannot return to their pre-injury work, despite having a stabilized and stationary medical condition.
The $6,000 voucher may be used to cover any expenses related to retraining and re-entering the workforce, including:
- Learning materials (Textbooks, manuals, etc.)
- Tuition fees and miscellaneous fees
- Computer equipment
- Exam fees
Workers' compensation provides eligible dependents death benefits of up to a maximum of $320,000 and funeral expenses of up to $10,000. If an employee's death is caused by a workplace accident, or if the employee's work-related injury or illness results in their passing, qualified dependents may file for a workers' comp claim and receive death benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who can claim workers' compensation benefits in California?
Most employees in California are entitled to workers' compensation benefits if they suffer a work-related injury or illness. Generally, benefits are available to employees working for employers with workers' compensation insurance.
2. Who pays for workers' compensation benefits in California?
It is the employer's responsibility to pay for their employees' workers' compensation benefits in California. Workers'Employers must purchase workers' comp insurance from a private insurance company, or they can self-insure.
3. Where can I apply for workers' compensation benefits in California?
California's Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) oversees the workers' compensation system. On the other hand, the DIR's Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) administers the system and provides financial and medical assistance to injured workers.
Employees suffering from work-related injuries or illnesses may apply for workers' compensation benefits in California. The eligibility requirements and the amount for each benefit vary depending on the employee's circumstances.
If you are unsure whether you qualify for workers' comp, contact a workers' compensation lawyer immediately.