Frequently Asked Questions
If someone needs a Workers Compensation Lawyer and wants to File a Claim what should they know before they actually file a claim?
How long have you been in business as a Workman’s Compensation Attorney? What is your background in Workers Compensation California and where do you service at?
Our office represents people all over Southern California we represent people in the San Bernardino and Riverside Counties we’ve had cases up in the high desert Victorville, Barstow we represented people all the way out to Blythe, California out near the border. I also do cases anywhere in Orange and Los Angeles County, not as much as in the LA area because of the distance from our office. If you want to talk about the years of experience, I've been a Workers Compensation Attorney California as long as anybody knows since I started out in 1982 which was about 38 years ago. I started working as an insurance adjuster doing Workers Compensation California claims that's where I first learned about the system then after 5 years of doing that and graduating from law school I worked for about five years as a defense attorney, an attorney for the insurance companies defending the claims and then for the last 24 years I've worked solely representing people injured at work in my Pomona office.
How many claims would you say you have handled in your experience working with injured workers and what is your success rate in California Workers Compensation cases?
I have represented individuals in my own office as a Work Comp Attorney for approximately 3,200 cases. I also estimate my success rate at probably about 99%. I have had some cases that do go to trail and the judge does not award any benefits but that's pretty much a rarity for me and my office.
How often do you take a case to a hearing or trial?
Most cases will at least have one hearing. I would say probably about 90% of the cases will go to a hearing and approximately 10% of those cases will actually proceed to a trial before a judge. My specialty is trying to get cases resolved. The best cases in California Workmans’ Compensation are the ones that can get settled. When settlement brings the case to an end for the injured worker, it puts money in their pocket and it allows them to move on with their life.
Who qualifies for Workers Compensation California benefits?
Anyone who suffered an injury at work qualifies for Workers Compensation California benefits that generally means if you’re on the payroll of an employer and during your course of your work you suffer an injury, then you are entitled to Workers Compensation benefits. Now in a lot of cases that can just be a matter of a cut on your arm where you need to go to the doctor and get it sewn up. Many cases don't result in being a long-term case but besides medical treatment if a doctor says that you are unable to work due to your injury you are entitled to Temporary Disability Benefits which is two-thirds of your average weekly wage which is tax-free. Also if you have suffered a permanent injury, that's a type of injury where maybe you suffered a permanent loss of use, maybe your arm or a leg or you have a persistent back pain that prevents you from doing heavy lifting, anything that causes your body to not function as well as it used to subjects you to getting a permanent disability award. The last benefit that they are entitled to is if the doctor says because of their injury they are not able to return to their usual and customary job their employer either has to find a modified job that they are able to physically do or they're entitled to what's called a rehabilitation voucher, which allows them $6,000 to go to a job training program and also a $5,000 cash benefits that they can use for any purpose.
How long does somebody have to file their California Workers Compensation claim?
There are exceptions but the general rule is that you need to file a claim within one year of the date of injury or at least within one year of the last time you received medical benefits.
If you're ever in question about how long you have to file a case the most important part is to see a Top Rated Workers Comp Lawyers near me and discuss it with him right away.
Why should somebody hire The Best Workers Comp Attorney Near Me vs handling it on their own?
The most important thing the Best Workers Compensation Attorney can do for you is to help you maneuver through the system such as if the insurance companies are not paying you benefits or providing you with medical treatment. The Best Workers Comp Lawyer can help you get that medical treatment and get those benefits that you deserve. Another very important reason for a The Best Workers Comp Attorney is to get the right medical treatment, many of the medical treatment facilities that the employer sends you to are not top quality medical facilities. They use what's called Physician's assistants to be your doctor basically when I think everyone who's had an injury is entitled to at least see a medical doctor and also help you select the best doctors to provide you the best treatment and the doctors that will write the best reports that allow you to get the best settlement. If you don't have an attorney the insurance company's going to be picking out your doctor's and I just think it's very important for you to have the right Medical providers to help you get the best settlement. All the settlements are based on medical reports. If you don't have good medical reports you’re not going to get the best settlement that's just basically the way it is.
Do you also handle personal injury claims and what kind of claims do you handle Jim?
My primary focus is Workers Compensation and of course I'm a California Workers Compensation attorney handling cases in California. I'm not licensed to represent people out-of-state. I handle a very select few personal injury cases, it's not an area I specialize in but I do handle some very serious cases and I also know the right attorneys to refer people to if they are involved in a personal injury lawsuit and it's not a workers compensation case. I can possibly represent them for the workers compensation case in California and refer them to a personal injury lawyer in the state of California. I also will refer certain people for wrongful termination if I feel they've been wrongfully terminated in their Workers Compensation California case in California. I also will possibly refer to people if I feel they have been discriminated against because of their workers compensation claim in California or because of other factors such as their age, race, their sexual orientation. A lot of employers tend to think if someone's been injured a worker does whatever they can to push them out of their job and I simply think that's wrong. Your Workers Compensation Lawyer is the best place to start with your case.
What damages are people entitled to recover for their work injury?
The most important benefit that they are entitled to have for their workers compensation is medical treatment. You can't get any better without medical treatment and workers compensation in california is a bit difficult. You initially have to go to the clinic that your employer referred you to. Usually for a very limited period of time and then you can select the doctor on what's called the medical provider network. These are doctors that the insurance company will allow you to use for your medical treatment. And it's really important in California Workers Compensation that you select the best doctors to be your treating doctors.
Another important factor in Workers Compensation is the medical treatment can be awarded for a lifetime basis. A lot of injuries such as a back injury may require treatment over the life of someone's injury. It can be 30 to 40 years. I've had people that have had multiple surgeries and had to receive medical treatment through Workers Compensation California for decades and that's just the most important benefit that you make sure you get that right preserved in the court document that you're entitled to future medical treatment for the remainder of your life. Besides medical treatment you are entitled to what's called temporary disability benefits. This is when a doctor says because of your injuries you were unable to continue your work ethic at the current time and you need to be off work. This benefit pays you 2/3 of your normal weekly wage without any deductions for all benefits in California Workers Compensation are tax-free including settlements and temporary disability benefits. The temporary disability benefit is available for you for up to two years within 5 years of your date of injury and if your disability lasts longer than 2 years you also may be entitled to one year of disability from the state of California. Besides medical treatment and temporary disability there's an important benefit called permanent disability. Permanent disability is on a rating system from 0% to 100% with a dollar value being assigned to each percentage of permanent disability. For a rough estimate percentage of permanent disability is equal to around $1,000 at least up to about 25% when it starts getting more. So say if a doctor says you have a 20% disability you're entitled to approximately $20,000 in permanent disability damages. In very severe cases there are awards that can be received for up to 100% permanent disability, which means you would receive 2/3 of your normal weekly wages over the remainder of your life those are only for very very serious cases. The last benefit you're entitled to is what's called a rehabilitation voucher. This is a voucher that allows you to select your own training program to train for a new job which will pay up to $6,000 for your training program in addition to that $6,000 training benefit you’ll also receive $5,000 in funds you can use for whatever you wish?
Are people entitled to Social Security Disability or Social Security retirement benefits while going through a Workers Compensation claim?
They can be, social security is a completely different legal system than California Workers Compensation. In a Social Security setting you to have to prove with some evidence to the Social Security Administration that your injuries are bad enough that you are unable to do any type of work whatsoever it's usually a pretty difficult burden to get to but it is something that's available to you if your injuries are very serious you are entitled to receive both workers compensation benefits and Social Security benefits if you qualify but to qualify for social security benefits you have to file a separate case other than your Workers Compensation case which goes before the Social Security Administration. The two systems have different laws so they don't always sink together equally but some people I say are under the impression that if you're getting workers compensation benefits you can't get Social Security benefits and that's not necessarily true.
How long will it take to recover benefits and or just compensation?
Generally, to recover the medical treatment and the workers compensation disability benefits it's generally, should be within two weeks of your injury. The law is if you've been injured at work and a doctor's placed you off work then the insurance company has to begin paying you benefits within 14 days of the day. If for some reason they are denying your case or not accepting your case as work-related they have to provide you with a notice that says they are contesting your case and that gives the insurance company up to 90 days to decide if they're going to accept your case or deny your case. During that period of time when your case has not been accepted you are entitled to what's called State Disability Benefits, if you have a doctor that's place you off work you can also apply to the Employment Development Department for state disability benefits and if the insurance company is not paying you then the state of California will pay you disability benefits again for up to one year as long as you have a doctor who says you’re disabled and unable to work.
How will I know when to settle my claim?
Well that’s why you want to hire the Best Workers Comp Attorney, of course I always tell people it's very important you hire a lawyer for his expertise and his experience. I do find it sometimes frustrating when I tell the injured worker that ‘Hey, they made a good offer of settlement, I recommend it to you this will probably be the best course of treatment and outcome’ and sometimes they tell me that ‘no they don't want to do this’. I mean that's their right to do that but sometimes they're causing them self harm. I try very hard to completely explain the process and the reasons that we should accept or not accept an offer and I hope that the clients by hiring me and my knowledge in workers compensation law, that they believe in my 38 years of experience and my knowledge. Doing this with over 3,000 cases, I know the best scenario situations, I think you should accept the settlement when your attorney recommends it. If you don't have an attorney and you're representing yourself you don't have anyone giving you advice whether you should accept the settlement or should you should not accept the settlement & obviously the insurance company knows a lot more about this than you do. The insurance companies of course are acting in their own best interest, that's what they're supposed to do. They're not going to give away their money if they don't think they have to. If you have an attorney on your side insurance companies know this is a serious case, this is someone that could take us to trial in front of a judge. The insurance companies generally don't like to go to trial, they don't like the judge to award benefits against them and they will usually try much harder to settle a case when someone has an attorney than when they don't.
Should somebody accept a lump sum in a Workers Compensation California settlement?
What should people do and not do while their case is pending?
What they should do number one and while their case is pending is listen to their doctors.
If their doctor tells them they should avoid certain activities then they should avoid certain activities. It can be very frustrating in cases where a doctor has told them ‘Look you should do no lifting of more than 10 pounds’ and someone gets discovered working in their yard, lifting bricks or working on their car in a bent-over position. You really were not concentrating on your recovery and resting, you should be taking the instructions of the doctors. Doctors will tell you about some home exercise programs but I always tell my clients to stay active. That means walking, swimming, doing exercises that are not hard on your body but keep yourself active. It can be very depressing being at home all day and not having anything to do and sitting at home on the computer, watching TV are most likely going to have to do some of that because you won't have a lot during the day. I really encourage my clients to stay as active as possible within the restrictions of the doctors
A hot topic right now is Covid-19 in California Workers Compensation, can you discuss what entails a Covid-19 Workmans’ Compensation California case? What to do if somebody contacts Covid while at work? What should they do if they have or think they have a Covid-19 & work related case?
Well Workers Compensation California has a what is called a presumption of compensability. What that means in Workers Comp California is that if you contract covid-19 it is generally presumed that it happened at work. If you are working in an environment where number one other people in the work have also contracted covid-19, you are what's called an essential worker where you have to work with the public, the general public or lots of other people. I have covid cases involving people that work at a meat packing plant that worked very close to each other and there was a serious outbreak of covid19 in the plant where multiple people contracted covid.
The number one thing if you believe you have contracted covid-19 at your workplace is to report it and to see a lawyer as soon as possible. Unfortunately in my experience some of the employers are reluctant to report Covid cases to their insurance company and in workers compensation in California it's very important that you document that you reported your case to your supervisor and you believe that you may have contracted at work. This is a very fresh area of the law and is ongoing but it's really important that I think if you believe you had covid-19 and you contracted it at work that you get the Best Workmans’ Comp Lawyer in California as soon as possible and get the process started compensation.
Why would you say you're the Best lawyer or the Best Workers Compensation Attorney in the best workers compensation attorney can you speak on that?
I would say the reason I think I'm one of the Best Workers Compensation Attorneys, the one thing about me that's really unique that makes me one of the Best Work Lawyers Near Me is my breath of experience in all the fields of workers comp. Being an adjuster for workers comp company I know the tricks, I know the things that they will do to try to affect your case being a defense attorney, I also know what the defense attorneys do to try to trip up Injured Workers and I'm aware of that. There are very few attorneys workers compensation attorneys in California that have that depth of experience that I do and that can see the case from all sides from the insurance adjuster side & from the defense attorney side & from the Applicants Attorneys side so I think that makes me very valuable in getting people the best settlement. I know the right things to do when it comes to the right things to say to help get the best settlement and I just think that's one of the very important things that makes me one of the best workers comp attorneys in California.
Can I get fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
Any retaliatory action taken by your employer as a result of you filing a workers’ compensation claim is against the law. Firing, demotion, reducing your work hours, or hostility in the workplace may be considered a retaliatory act and you could be entitled to an increase in benefits.
Can future employers find out if I filed a claim with my previous employer?
It is against the law for any employer to inquire about any prior workers’ compensation claims you may have filed or try and search for your workers’ compensation claims history. This applies at the time of hiring and while you are employed.
How much does it cost to hire an attorney to handle my claim?
Generally, attorneys will handle your case with no upfront cost to you. Instead, once a claim is successfully settled, the attorney will take a percentage of the settlement as their fees. All costs including legal work, doctor’s bills, MRIs, X-Rays and physical therapy while you are injured are at no cost to you.
What do I have to do when I file a workers’ compensation claim?
Once you file a workers’ compensation claim, your attorney will typically refer you to a doctor to receive an evaluation and treatment for your injuries. It is possible that the insurance company may require you to take a deposition. Although very few cases end up going to trial, if yours does, you may need to be available to testify.
What settlements should I expect to receive from a workers’ compensation claim?
The settlement you may receive depends on the extent of your injuries, how long the injury has disabled you, and future medical care and treatment. The workers’ compensation system is designed to compensate you for how much the injury has disabled you. When it comes to future medical care and treatment, you may either have a choice to have the insurance company pay for future medical treatments for your injuries or have them provide you a lump sum settlement that projects the costs.
A lot of times what I see is when someone at work is injured or reports an injury, they don’t get much attention from their employer and the employers often like to ignore the workers when they tell him/her they've been injured. They tell him either, just go home and rest a day or rub some ointment on it and things will go away. I find a lot of times an injured worker has a real difficult time in communicating to their employers that they have been injured and some employers will absolutely ignore them when they tell them they've been injured so unfortunately when you get injured at work what you need to do is document the date, the time of your injury and who you reported to so if they don't take any action on your case you can go and talk to the Best Workers Compensation Attorney about getting the benefits that you would need, that is the most important part in starting a case the documentation and the specifics of their action and negligence of protecting you the injured worker.
That's really a choice that I leave to the injured worker. The injured worker, it's their decision if they want to accept the settlement which includes settlement in payments, that's called ‘not a lump-sum settlement’ its called a “findings and awards” and generally gives you payments of $290 per week until your total amount say ‘$25000’ for example is paid off so you get small payment but over a long period of time. Which is a benefit to you because you don't spend the money all at one time and you have some supplemental income coming in.
I generally try to get my clients a lump-sum award I find that the people have been the happiest with the lump sum award because they get their money all in one lump sum and is tax-free they can use that money to put in the bank for retirement, credit card or maybe to get themselves you know a new car, some new clothes or to get themselves going again. California Workers Comp cases differ in the lump sum it also ends the case and it brings it to the point where you're done with it. You don't have to think about it anymore, you can focus on thinking about the future and moving on with your life. If you're in one of those settlements where you get the future medical treatment you get small payments you're reminded about it every two weeks to get a check and you have to go on and fight with the insurance company and the doctors over again. Withstand Workers Compensation California is a real challenge so I usually recommend a lump sum settlement if that is a decision I leave out to my client if they would rather have the future settlements they would rather have.