At Pacific Workers', The Lawyers for Injured Workers, our Oakland workers' compensation and personal injury lawyers understand that there is often a great deal of confusion and stress when it comes to seeking compensation for work- and accident-related injuries. In order to provide you with the information you need, we’ve compiled some frequently asked questions about workers’ compensation and personal injury law in California. Continue reading, or contact us today to request a free and confidential consultation.
Why should I hire Pacific Workers', The Lawyers for Injured Workers to represent me?
With more than 130 years of combined experience, we are the kind of law firm you can turn to with confidence. We are passionate about what we do and the men and women we represent. In fact, we make ourselves available to our clients 24/7, especially during emergencies. Our AV® Rated firm was the first to have ever filed an NFL concussion case, which speaks volumes about our determination and legal prowess. When it comes to standing up for our clients, we are not afraid of anyone.
Am I eligible for workers’ compensation?
In California, all employees are eligible for workers’ compensation with very few exceptions. If you are classified as an “employee” (rather than an “independent contractor”), you are eligible to receive benefits. This is true regardless of how many employees your employer has, how many hours you work, how much you make, whether you work part-time or full-time, or whether you are a seasonal worker. Additionally, undocumented workers are also eligible for workers’ compensation granted they meet all other eligibility requirements. In contrast, independent contractors and certain other workers, including some volunteers, household workers who are employed by a family member, and others, are not able to file for workers’ compensation benefits.
Can't I just file for workers' compensation on my own?
Filing for workers' compensation on your own increases the chances that your claim will be denied. One small misstep can prevent you from obtaining the compensation you need for your injuries. In addition, the process is usually complex and tedious, especially for someone with no workers' compensation law experience. It is extremely advantageous that you seek reliable and experienced legal guidance for your claim.
What can I expect from the workers' compensation process?
As soon as you reach out to us for help, we will assign you a full-time case manager and attorney. An application will be filed with the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) on your behalf. We will get started on your case immediately to help you receive the medical care you need. If we are unable to receive a fair settlement from the insurance company, we are ready and willing to take your case to trial. After a few months, you will most likely give a deposition. One of our highly experienced attorneys will prepare you and stand at your side the entire time. You don't even have to attend court hearings! One of our trained hearing officers or attorneys can attend on your behalf.
Can my employer tell me to use sick time or vacation/personal time off (PTO) if I’m injured at work?
Following a work-related injury, you may not receive workers’ compensation benefits right away or your workers’ compensation claim may be denied. You may receive a note from your doctor that you may take time off work due to your injuries, but how will you be paid if you are not actively seeking workers’ compensation benefits? Your employer may tell you to use your state-mandated/employer-provided sick time in order to continue being paid while you are out of work. Once this sick time is exhausted, your employer may tell you that the only way you can continue to be paid is if you use your vacation or PTO time. In some cases, this may actually be the only way to continue receiving wages while you are out of work and not receiving workers’ compensation benefits. For more information, check out our video with Attorney Bilal Kassem on this topic by visiting our Facebook page!
Can I get workers’ compensation if I was fired?
If you were terminated while already receiving workers’ compensation benefits, this does not necessarily affect your right to receive benefits. However, if you were terminated “for cause” (for example, if you were fired because you were caught stealing from your employer), you will not be able to continue collecting benefits. If you were not fired for cause, but were laid off due to your position being terminated or various other reasons, you may still be able to continue collecting your workers’ compensation benefits. If you believe you were terminated because you filed for workers’ compensation or because you were hurt at work, you may have grounds for a retaliation claim. Learn more, including whether you can continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits if you were laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic, see our video with Attorney Bilal Kassem on our Facebook page.
I was injured in a car accident. Can I file a claim against the other driver?
Yes, California is a “fault state,” meaning you may file a claim against an at-fault driver’s insurance company after an accident. Under California’s rule of pure comparative negligence, you do not need to prove that the other driver was entirely at fault or even that they were mostly at fault for the accident; you simply need to show that they contributed to the accident that caused your injuries/damages through negligence or intentional conduct in some way. However, if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, your total recoverable award will be reduced by your at-fault percentage.
What do I do if I was hurt by a defective product?
If you were injured or otherwise harmed by a defective or unreasonably dangerous product, you can file what is known as a product liability claim. In some cases, you may not need to prove that a product manufacturer or distributor was negligent in order to recover compensation. Our attorneys can help you understand your various legal rights and options according to the specifics of your case. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.
How much compensation will I receive?
It is impossible to calculate exactly how much compensation you will receive without looking into your situation. Your final award amount will depend on the severity of your injuries. Discussing your case with us can give you a better idea of what to expect on your road to recovery.
What if I can’t afford legal representation?
We understand that many injured individuals hesitate to retain legal representation due to financial reasons. This is why our firm accepts workers' compensation and personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you do not have to pay us a dime unless we obtain recovery on your behalf. In addition, we offer all our potential clients a free evaluation, either in person or over the phone. We believe that all injured workers and individuals should have access to high-quality legal representation, regardless of their financial situation.