San Bernardino Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
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San Bernardino Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Every day, San Bernardino area residents leave their homes and head to work at retail establishments, downtown office buildings, large logistics centers at the airport and rail yards, and countless other locations around the Inland Empire. None of these individuals expect to suffer serious injuries on the job that day or to develop a serious illness because of hazardous conditions at their workplaces.
Unfortunately, for some San Bernardino workers, the workday ends in disaster. Through car accidents, falls, equipment failures, exposure to toxic chemicals and materials, and numerous other dangerous incidents, workers may suffer serious harm that disrupts their lives and livelihoods. Suddenly, they face mountains of medical bills and other expenses that they may have never expected. They cannot work because of their injuries or illnesses and need help with household chores and errands just to get through the day.
The physical, emotional, and financial strain of a San Bernardino workplace injury or illness can weigh heavily on workers and their families. Fortunately, California law protects workers from at least some of those challenges by providing for payment of workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages.
Unfortunately, San Bernardino workers often find that obtaining full workers’ compensation benefits is complex and difficult. Insurance companies deny or reduce claims, employers try to undermine workers’ rights, and even when benefits arrive, they barely cover the cost of essentials.
Workers confronting this difficult time in their lives need an experienced, skilled San Bernardino workers’ compensation lawyer who is fighting to make sure they maximize their insurance benefits and other forms of compensation. In San Bernardino, injured and sick workers can turn to Gomez Trial Attorneys for that sure-handed legal representation. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
Gomez Trial Attorneys Advocates for San Bernardino Workers
Gomez Trial Attorneys is an award-winning personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm with offices throughout Southern California. Our team consists of experienced, knowledgeable trial lawyers who have spent their careers fighting for the rights of people who suffer harm in preventable accidents and incidents.
Over our years of practice, we have recovered millions of dollars for our clients through jury verdicts and settlements. We also have a long track record of success in advocating for workers who were unjustly denied workers’ compensation benefits. Of course, we can never guarantee a favorable outcome in any particular case, but we can promise that our clients will receive personalized attention from top-notch lawyers who know how to get results and deal with insurance companies, defense lawyers, judges, and juries.
Overview of Workers’ Compensation for San Bernardino Workers
Workers’ compensation is insurance that protects employees against the costs of work-related injuries and illnesses. With extremely limited exceptions, California law requires employers, regardless of size, to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Virtually all San Bernardino workers have the right to benefit from the protections of workers’ comp, including minors and undocumented workers.
California law entitles San Bernardino workers who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses to the following benefits:
- Medical benefits that pay for the cost of medical care for a work-related injury or illness
- Temporary disability benefits that pay a portion of the worker’s wages when a worker must miss work to recover from a work-related injury or illness
- Permanent disability benefits when a work-related injury or illness causes a permanent disability
- Supplemental job displacement benefits to help pay for worker retraining, if a work-related illness or injury prevents a worker from returning to work in the worker’s prior capacity
- Death benefits, payable to the families of workers who die as a result of a work-related injury or illness
The amount of benefits that a worker can receive will vary depending on the type and severity of the injury or illness. Workers have the right to receive these benefits, however, no matter who caused the injury or illness. In other words, even if the injury or illness resulted from the worker’s own negligence, the worker will still have the right to receive benefits.
Calculating the value of a workers’ compensation claim is difficult and best left to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today to discuss the details of your workplace injury or illness and to determine your eligibility to pursue compensation.
How Workers’ Compensation Works in San Bernardino: Theory vs. Reality
The California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) oversees workers’ compensation insurance in California. Workers who visit the DWC website will find lots of useful information about their rights to receive benefits. Reading that information, San Bernardino workers may even think it is easy to obtain workers’ compensation benefits to pay for their work-related illnesses and injuries.
If only that were the case.
How It Should Work
The DWC website makes it seem like obtaining benefits is pretty straightforward: injured workers report the injury to their employers, the employers provide a claim form, and the workers visit a doctor, hand over the claim form, the doctor submits it, and the benefits get paid.
In an ideal world, that might reflect how workers’ compensation would work, but unfortunately, we do not live in the ideal world. We live in the real world, and in the real world, San Bernardino workers will likely encounter significant difficulty in seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
How It Actually Works
San Bernardino workers who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses can follow the exact instructions on the DWC website for filing a claim, and still, the result may not meet their expectations. Why? Because workers’ comp is a form of insurance, and like any other kind of insurance, the company that sells it would prefer not to pay full claims.
Instead of receiving the benefits to which they are entitled, San Bernardino workers who follow the rules by reporting their injuries, filling out claim forms, and getting medical treatment will often receive denial letters from insurance companies.
Workers’ compensation insurers may offer these justifications for denying claims:
- That the worker did not meet deadlines or follow other technical rules for submitting a claim (even if the worker did)
- That the worker’s injury is not as severe as the worker or worker’s doctor claims (even if it is)
- That the worker does not need the medical care the worker seeks payment-for (even if the worker does)
- That the worker did not suffer the injury or illness in connection with work (even if that’s exactly what happened)
- That the worker was drunk or on drugs, or caused his or her own injury intentionally (even if that’s not what happened)
- That the worker had a pre-existing condition that is not covered by workers’ compensation (even if that’s not true)
Making matters worse, San Bernardino employers will sometimes work behind the scenes to undermine workers’ claims. The employer might dispute the worker’s version of events, pressure the worker to downplay or retract the claim, or try to cover up the causes of the injury or illness. It is completely illegal for employers to engage in this kind of underhanded conduct, but it happens, and it only makes workers’ lives that much more difficult.
Plus, the process for appealing the denial of a claim may seem confusing and overwhelming for many workers. At each stage of that process, the requirements seem more technical and less able to manage without legal representation.
That’s why you want to call our San Bernardino personal injury lawyers as soon as possible.
How We Help San Bernardino Workers
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, our mission is to ensure that people who suffer injuries and illnesses in preventable accidents and incidents recover the money they need to recover their health and rebuild their lives.
San Bernardino workers often seek our help after having sustained a serious illness or injury in connection with their jobs. Sometimes, clients reach out to us before they file their workers’ compensation claims, and sometimes after they have received a denial from the workers’ compensation insurance company. The specific services we provide to clients will vary depending on their particular needs and priorities.
However, our attorneys have the skill and experience to help in the following ways:
- Investigate the work-related accident, incident, or condition that led to the worker getting hurt or sick, which may involve gathering evidence from co-workers or documenting workplace health and safety violations.
- Help prepare, file, and follow-up on initial workers’ compensation insurance claims, to give workers the best possible shot at receiving full benefits right off-the-bat.
- Prepare, file, and litigate appeals of denied claims at every stage of the appeals process, which can range from an informal administrative hearing to a full-blown case in California courts.
- Prepare, file, and litigate claims for wrongful and illegal conduct by workers’ comp insurance companies and/or employers who retaliate or work against employees who file, or try to file, workers’ compensation claims.
- Prepare, file, and litigate claims against third parties (someone other than the worker’s employer or co-workers) whose unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions caused the worker’s injury or illness.
Oftentimes, through our hard work and detailed investigations, the team at Gomez Trial Attorneys succeeds in uncovering evidence that supports significant legal claims for damages that workers can seek in addition to their workers’ compensation benefits.
Our mission, throughout our representation of a San Bernardino worker, is to discover and pursue every avenue reasonably available to a worker to obtain as much money as possible to pay for work-related injuries and illnesses. In other words, for us, workers’ compensation is a good place to start in fighting to get an injured or sick worker paid, but we know it is not always the only place to go for payment.
What San Bernardino Workers Can Do to Help Themselves
The steps a San Bernardino worker takes in the aftermath of suffering an injury or illness in connection with work can have a significant impact on the worker’s rights and ability to recover compensation in the future. Every situation is different, of course, so there is no one-size-fits-all method for workers to protect their rights.
However, many injured or sick workers can help themselves by taking the following steps:
- Reporting their injuries or illnesses as soon as possible. Sometimes, workers know right away that they’ve sustained an injury or illness, such as when someone falls from a ladder and breaks an arm. Other times, it takes a while for workers to realize that a situation at work has caused harm, such as when workers suffer illness from long-term exposure to a toxic chemical in the workplace. In either situation, the important thing is to report the harm as soon as the worker knows about it. By reporting, workers trigger legal obligations on the part of their employers and take an important first step toward compensation.
- Seeking medical care whenever needed and appropriate. In a health emergency arising from a work-related injury or illness, seek emergency care. Do not wait for an employer’s permission if it’s an emergency. In other situations, report the condition to the employer and seek appropriate medical care as soon as possible. Be aware that a worker may have to visit a doctor designated by the employer in non-emergency situations, so it is always important to report the injury or illness to the employer first, if possible.
- Contacting an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer right away, even before filing an initial workers’ comp claim. By talking to a skilled lawyer as early as possible, workers can ensure that their rights stay protected and that they take the appropriate steps to maximize their compensation.
San Bernardino Workers’ Compensation FAQ
Workers’ compensation insurance protects San Bernardino workers who suffer an injury or illness on the job. In California, employers must purchase that insurance to protect employees who get hurt or sick on the job.
In theory, the workers’ compensation system makes it easier for workers to access the benefits they need after suffering an injury or an illness while working. Unfortunately, the workers’ comp system does not always go smoothly for injured and sick workers. Instead, the procedures and rules they must follow, and the decisions workers’ comp insurance companies make to limit or deny claims, seem confusing, complicated, and unfair.
Below, we explore some frequently asked questions many employees have regarding a workers’ compensation claim, and explain how a San Bernardino workers’ compensation attorney can help them secure the benefits they need and deserve. For answers to specific questions about a San Bernardino workers’ compensation claim, contact a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys today.
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a type of business insurance that protects employees and businesses from financial loss when a worker gets hurt or sick due to a work-related cause. Under California law, virtually all employers must purchase workers’ compensation insurance to protect their employees against medical and disability-related costs of a work-related illness or injury. Employers may not force employees to pay for this insurance.
Workers’ comp covers virtually all San Bernardino workers regardless of their age, job description or responsibilities, industry, skill-level, and number of hours they work. It covers temporary and permanent employees. It also covers employees regardless of their immigration status, which means you have rights to workers’ comp benefits even if you are undocumented.
San Bernardino workers’ compensation attorneys represent workers in obtaining workers’ comp benefits, appealing an insurance company’s denial of benefits, and (sometimes) in securing compensation for work-related injuries from sources other than workers’ comp.
In San Bernardino, what kind of injuries qualify for workers’ compensation?
Generally, workers’ compensation insurance covers any injuries, illnesses, or any other health conditions that arise during the scope of a worker’s employment.
Two common types of injuries that often result in a workers’ compensation claim are:
- Repeated exposure injuries, which result from the long-term performance of job responsibilities that cause harm, or in a job environment that causes harm, such as injuries muscles or joints from a repeated physical task, or illnesses that a worker develops through exposure to dangerous chemicals or materials at work.
- Traumatic injuries caused by a specific incident or accident at work, such as a construction worker falling from a ladder, or a farmworker suffering a serious injury when a tractor tips over.
If you suffered any type of injury, illness, or health condition in connection with your job, then chances are you have a workers’ comp claim, and you may benefit from speaking with an experienced San Bernardino workers’ compensation attorney about your rights.
How much time do I have to file a workers’ compensation claim in San Bernardino?
You must report your injury to your employer within 30 days, and ideally, you should do so immediately. A failure to report your injury to your employer can result in you losing your right to workers’ comp benefits.
After that, generally speaking, California law gives you one year from the date of your job-related injury or illness to file a workers’ comp claim with the workers’ compensation insurance company.
Click here to read up-to-date information from the California Division of Workers Compensation about the process of applying for workers’ compensation benefits.
In San Bernardino, what kind of workers’ compensation benefits can I receive?
Every case has unique facts, but in general, an injured San Bernardino worker can receive the following workers’ comp benefits:
- Disability payments roughly equal to two-thirds of the worker’s regular wages, paid during any period of temporary disability;
- Medical treatment benefits that cover the full cost of a worker’s medical expenses, including doctor’s bills for the duration of their disability or injury;
- Permanent disability benefits that replace a portion of the worker’s wages when an injury causes a permanent disability that prevents the worker from working;
- Job retraining benefits that help a worker find new employment in a different field if an injury prevents the worker from returning to an old job;
- Death benefits paid to the worker’s family in the event the worker dies from a work-related injury or illness.
What are temporary disability benefits in San Bernardino?
If you were injured on the job, you may have the right to receive temporary disability benefits. These benefits substitute for the wage you would have earned if you had not suffered an injury or illness.
The insurance company will only pay these benefits if it agrees that you suffered a work-related injury or illness.
To prove that’s what happened, you may need to prove that:
- A doctor certifies that you cannot work as a result of your injury;
- You are limited in the type of work you can do; and
- Your employer does not have any light or modified work to offer as an alternative.
The law limits temporary disability benefits limited to 104 weeks of payments within the five year period after the date of your work injury or illness.
Can I go to my own doctor to get examined following a work-related injury?
You can go to any doctor if you need emergency care.
For all other injuries or illnesses, you may need to check with your employer to find out which doctor you can use. Click here to read detailed information about your rights to medical care under workers’ compensation insurance in San Bernardino.
In simple terms, you have the right to go to your own doctor if you provided your employer with a written notice ahead of time (called predesignation) that you want your personal doctor to treat you if you get hurt or sick at work.
If you did not predesignate, then your employer or the workers’ compensation claims administrator can choose the doctor who treats you.
This can get confusing, so if you feel you should have the right to see your own doctor, but your employer or the workers’ comp insurance company will not allow it, speak with our experienced San Bernardino workers’ compensation attorneys right away.
What type of medical care is covered under workers’ compensation in San Bernardino?
Under California workers’ compensation law, you have the right to receive all medical care “reasonably required to cure or relieve” your work-related injury or illness. Doctors and workers’ compensation insurance companies must follow science-based guidelines published by the state Division of Workers’ Compensation in providing your care. They cannot deny you care for arbitrary reasons.
Sometimes, a workers’ compensation insurance company will try to deny your claim for medical benefits on the basis that your care is not “reasonably required”, even though your doctor says it is. If that happens to you, contact an experienced San Bernardino workers’ compensation attorney right away to learn about your rights.
Instead of workers’ compensation, can I sue my employer for my injuries in San Bernardino?
You will rarely need to do that.
By and large, workers’ compensation insurance takes the place of your right to sue your employer for your work-related injury or illness. This represents a trade-off that benefits both you and your employer. You get coverage for all job-related injuries or illnesses, even ones caused by your own actions. Your employer gets protection against lawsuits by employees blaming the employer for the harm they have suffered. (Exceptions exist if an employer caused you harm on-purpose, which is rare, but can happen.)
You may need to sue the workers’ comp insurance company if it refuses to cover your injury or illness, or tries to shortchange the payments you deserve. Call us if that happens—or better yet, call us for help in filing your claim.
Even if you cannot sue your employer, however, you may have the right to sue a third party (someone other than your employer or co-worker), if that third party’s unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions led to you getting hurt or sick. For example, a San Bernardino agricultural worker may have a claim against the manufacturer of heavy farm equipment, if that equipment malfunctioned and caused the worker’s injury.
Speak with an experienced San Bernardino workers’ compensation lawyer today to learn about whether you may have a claim for damages in addition to your workers’ comp claim.
If I work for a small business in San Bernardino, am I covered by workers’ compensation?
Most likely, yes.
In California, virtually all employers—even small businesses with just a handful of employees—must purchase workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their workers. In fact, the law requires your employer to purchase workers’ comp even if you are your employer’s only employee. Employers who violate this obligation face stiff fines and liability to employees.
Sometimes, employers try to avoid the cost of buying workers’ compensation insurance by calling their employees “independent contractors.”Although true independent contractors do not enjoy the benefits of workers’ comp, it is illegal for employers to misclassify people who are actually employees as independent contractors to save money on workers’ comp insurance.
The distinction between an employee and an independent contractor is not always obvious. In the simplest terms, you qualify as an employee entitled to workers’ comp benefits if your employer controls when, how, and where you do your work, no matter what label your employer gives to you.
Speak with an experienced San Bernardino workers’ compensation lawyer right away if you believe your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor to avoid providing you with workers’ comp benefits.
What happens if my San Bernardino workers’ compensation claim gets denied?
Sometimes, workers’ compensation insurance companies and claims administrators deny claims.
Some reasons they often give for denying claims include:
- Your injury or illness is not work-related;
- You failed to report your injury or illness within 30 days; or
- Your medical treatment is not reasonably required to treat your condition.
These are just some of the reasons an insurance company might give for denying your claim. No matter what reason they give, the important thing for you to know is that you have important rights that protect you and give you the right to appeal the company’s decision. It is illegal for a workers’ comp insurance company to deny a valid claim, and with the help of an experienced San Bernardino workers’ compensation lawyer, you can fight back and try to get the compensation you need and deserve.
Time, however, is not on your side. If you receive a claim denial, speak with an attorney right away to protect your rights.
Can I get fired for filing a San Bernardino workers’ compensation claim?
It is absolutely illegal for any California employer to retaliate against an employee in any way, shape, or form for the employee filing a workers’ comp claim. It is also illegal for an employer to take any action to threaten or intimidate an employee into not filing a claim.
Employers who violate the law face significant penalties and legal liability to their employees. Speak with an experienced San Bernardino workers’ compensation insurance lawyer right away if your employee took any action against you related to you exercising your rights to workers’ comp benefits. Any adverse job action an employer takes—firing, demoting, cutting hours, cutting pay, reassigning to different work, and so on—in retaliation against you is illegal and may entitle you to significant damages.
How can a San Bernardino workers’ compensation attorney help me with my workers’ compensation claim?
An experienced San Bernardino workers’ compensation lawyer can help you by:
- Preparing and filing a workers’ compensation claim;
- Preparing and filing an appeal of any partial or total claim denial;
- Answering questions about your legal rights to benefits;
- Protecting your rights not to have your employer retaliate against you for filing a workers’ comp claim; and
- Pursuing a claim against a third party to secure money damages in addition to your workers’ comp benefits.
Our skilled workers’ compensation attorneys in San Bernardino will meet with you for an initial consultation free of charge. We represent our clients on a contingency fee basis in which you pay nothing unless we secure money for you. Contact an experienced San Bernardino workers’ compensation attorney at Gomez Trial Attorneys today to learn more.
Skilled Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in San Bernardino
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we fight to make sure that San Bernardino workers who suffer injuries and illnesses in connection with their jobs understand how to pursue compensation.
We urge any worker who gets hurt or sick at work to contact us as soon as possible. Workers have limited time to pursue compensation, and the sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we can begin building a strong case to support your claim. You can reach us online or by calling (619) 237-3490 to get a free, confidential case evaluation today.
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