Our FAQ in California


 
 
 

About the basics:

Q. What is workers' compensation?

A. If you have a work-related injury or illness, your employer is required by law to pay for workers' compensation benefits. You could get hurt by:

One event at work, such as hurting your back in a fall, getting burned by a chemical that splashes on your skin or getting hurt in a car accident while making deliveries.

--or--

Repeated exposures at work, such as hurting your wrist from doing the same motion over and over or losing your hearing because of constant loud noise.

How can I avoid getting hurt on the job?

A. Employers in California are required to have an injury and illness prevention program. The program must include worker training, workplace inspections, and procedures for correcting unsafe conditions promptly. Learn about and participate in your employer's program and report unsafe conditions to your employer. If they don't respond, call Cal/OSHA, the state agency that enforces health and safety laws.
Q. What should I do if I have a job injury?

A. Report the injury to your employer by telling your supervisor right away. If your injury or illness developed over time, report it as soon as you learn or believe it was caused by your job.

Reporting promptly helps prevent problems and delays in receiving benefits, including medical care you may need. If your employer does not learn about your injury within 30 days and this prevents your employer from fully investigating the injury and how you were injured, you could lose your right to receive workers' compensation benefits.

Get emergency treatment if you need it. Your employer may tell you where to go for treatment. Tell the health care provider who treats you that your injury or illness is job-related.

Fill out a claim form and give it to your employer. Your employer must give or mail you a claim form within one working day after learning about your injury or illness. If your employer doesn't give you the claim form you can download it from the forms page of the DWC website.
Q. Do I need to fill out the claim form (DWC 1) my employer gave me?

A. Yes. Giving the completed form to your employer opens your workers' compensation case. It starts the process for finding all benefits you may qualify for under state law. Those benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • A presumption that your injury or illness was caused by work if your claim is not accepted or denied within 90 days of giving the completed claim form to your employer
  • Up to $10,000 in treatment under medical treatment guidelines while the claims administrator considers your claim
  • An increase in your disability payments if they're late
  • A way to resolve any disagreements between you and the claims administrator over whether your injury or illness happened on the job, the medical treatment you receive and whether you will receive permanent disability benefits.
Q. What benefits am I entitled to?

A. Workers' comp insurance provides five basic benefits:

  • Medical care: Paid for by your employer to help you recover from an injury or illness caused by work
  • Temporary disability benefits: Payments if you lose wages because your injury prevents you from doing your usual job while recovering
  • Permanent disability benefits: Payments if you don't recover completely
  • Supplemental job displacement benefits (if your date of injury is in 2004 or later): Vouchers to help pay for retraining or skill enhancement if you don't recover completely and don't return to work for your employer
  • Death benefits: Payments to your spouse, children or other dependents if you die from a job injury or illness.
Attend a free seminar for injured workers at a local DWC office for a full explanation of workers' comp benefits, your rights and responsibilities.
Q. What resources are available to me?

A. Your local I&A officers are a great resource and their services are free. They are not there to act on your behalf as an attorney would, but they'll help you understand how to act on your own behalf. Attend a free seminar for injured workers at a local DWC district office for a full explanation of workers' comp benefits, your rights and responsibilities. You can also make an appointment with an I&A officer and speak to them privately at your convenience.

In addition, there is a lot of information on the I&A page of the DWC's website. Check out the fact sheets and guides for injured workers. The fact sheets provide answers to frequently asked questions about issues affecting your benefits. The guides will help you fill out forms you may need to get a problem with your claim resolved at the local DWC district office.
Q. How can I find out who provides workers' compensation coverage for my employer or another business in California?

A. In California all employers are required to either purchase a workers' compensation insurance policy from a licensed insurer authorized to write policies in California or become self insured. The DWC does not provide workers' compensation insurance for employers and does not maintain information about employers and their respective insurers. To find out which insurer provides workers' compensation insurance for a specific employer, visit the California Workers' Compensation Coverage website. The roster of self-insured employers can be found on the Self Insurance Plans Web page.

More information about workers' compensation can be found on the DWC's Web page for injured workers.
Q. I know that independent contractors aren't covered under workers' compensation. How do I know if I really am an independent contractor?

A. There is no set definition of this term. Labor law enforcement agencies and the courts look at several factors when deciding if someone is an employee or an independent contractor. Some employers misclassify employees as an independent contractor to avoid workers' compensation and other payroll responsibilities. Just because an employer says you are an independent contractor and doesn't need to cover you under a workers' compensation policy, doesn't make it true. A true independent contractor has control over how their work is done. You probably are not an independent contractor when the person paying you:

  • Controls the details or manner of your work
  • Has the right to terminate you
  • Pays you an hourly wage or salary
  • Makes deductions for unemployment or social security
  • Supplies materials or tools
  • Requires you to work specific days or hours.
Q. What happens to an injured worker's personal information that is requested on various DWC forms? Is it kept confidential?

A. The division uses this information solely to administer its duties in workers' compensation claims. For example, if an injured worker provides their Social Security number (in whole or in part), DWC will use it as an identifier to ensure that documents are matched to the correct workers' comp case. Unless authorized by law to do so, DWC cannot disclose the residence addresses of injured workers or their Social Security number.

Note that some case file information can be found by using the public information case search tool on the DWC's website.
Q. What personal information can be found in a public information search?

A. The search tool shows limited case data, such as an injured worker's name, case number, case status, court location, employer name, a description of events in the case, and associated dates. It may list the parts of the body that were injured, but it does not include medical records or any case documents. The information provided in this search tool relates solely to cases in DWC's adjudication unit and is intended to help move cases through the court system efficiently. Any person requesting access to this information is required to identify themselves, state the reason for making the request and is instructed not to disclose the information to any person who is not entitled.

Injured workers should be aware that, once an Application for Adjudication of Claim is filed, case file information, including case documents, may be disclosed under the California Public Records Act. Even in this circumstance, an injured worker's address and Social Security number are not revealed to the requestor by the DWC.

Find more information about basic facts on workers' compensation in the factsheet.
What to do in an Accident

Auto Accidents

Even the best drivers are subject to automobile accidents. Therefore, we should all know what steps to take immediately following an accident to protect the life, limb, property and legal rights of those involved. Doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time may save a life; it will always minimize and often avoid, legal problems.

Here are the steps you should take if you are involved in an accident with another vehicle or a pedestrian:

  • Stop Your Car
Never leave the scene of an accident in which you or your car was involved. No matter how slight the collision, if you fail to stop you may subject yourself to criminal prosecution, even though the accident was not your fault. Stop your car as soon as possible without further endangering any person or property, and without obstructing traffic. Do whatever is necessary to warn oncoming traffic in order to prevent further accidents. If possible, station someone in the position to warn approaching vehicles. At night, use flares or reflectors or your flashlight, if available.

  • Call the Police
Policemen are trained to handle any situation that may result from or arise after an accident. If you are involved in an accident, even though you are not physically injured, you may suffer from shock and excitement which makes it difficult for you to think clearly at the time. Let the police take over when he arrives. He will handle any emergency and investigate the accident. His report of investigation may be helpful to you later if you are sued, or if you decide to sue someone else. If the accident occurs within the limits of a city, village or town, call the municipal police. If it occurs on the open highway, call the nearest State Police Station or the County Sheriff's office.

  • The Law Requires Information
The motor vehicle law of California requires the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident to give his name, address and the license number of the vehicle he is driving to the other party. If it is requested, the driver must exhibit his driver's license. Leaving the scene of an accident without furnishing such information may subject you to criminal prosecution.

If you collide with a vehicle which is unattended, the law requires you to locate the operator or owner of the vehicle and tell him your name and address. If you cannot locate the owner, leave a written message stating your name and address and the circumstances of the collision in a conspicuous place or in the unattended vehicle.

The best policy is to give no more information than the law requires. Do not comment on the cause of the accident, and do not admit fault even if you think you were in the wrong. You may discover later that the other driver was equally or more to blame. In addition, immediately after an accident, you will most likely be emotionally or physically upset to such an extent that you will be unable to accurately appraise the situation. There will be a time for explanations later. No one has the right to force you to give an opinion as to the cause of the accident, at police headquarters or elsewhere. You have the right to consult a lawyer before making a statement.

  • Obtain Protective Information
Just as the law requires you to give certain information, you are entitled to the same information from other persons involved in the accident. Do not fail to obtain this information. In addition to the names and addresses of the persons actually involved, make an effort to obtain the names and addresses of all persons who witnessed the accident. Witnesses may be important later if legal action becomes necessary. Also, if reasonable to do so:

  • Make notes of the important aspects of the collision to help you remember them.
  • Diagram the exact position of the vehicles before and after the accident.
  • Step off skid marks and other important distances.
  • File Accident Reports

Notify your automobile insurance company immediately and cooperate with your insurance representatives in their investigation.

In addition, California law requires you to file a written report of any accident in which you were involved which resulted either in the death or injury to any person and in most accidents where property damage occurred. Failure to file a report may cause you to lose your license. A report form may be obtained at any police station or sheriff's office. The place where the report should be filed appears on the form. The filing of the report should be within ten days after the accident.

  • Arrests
An arrest, either of you or the other party, does not necessarily indicate liability for the accident. However, a statement of guilt or a plea of guilty to a traffic ticket may be used as an admission, so it is important that you obtain legal advice if you are arrested. Receiving a ticket is an arrest.

  • Your Rights
If you are not certain of your rights, consult with a lawyer. Your insurance company will always be represented by trained adjusters or by an attorney. You should ignore any attempt by a representative of the other party to influence you against the advice of your own attorney. Furthermore, beware of an attorney or anyone representing an attorney who approaches you with a request to handle your case. Solicitation of business is an unethical practice in the legal profession. Solicitation by non-lawyers is illegal and a violation of state law.

  • Damages
If you lose work, sustain injuries or have other losses, you may be entitled to reimbursement under your own policy of insurance if the conditions have been met. You may also be entitled to damages from the other party to the accident.

Awarding monetary damages is the law's method of putting the wrongfully injured party, as closely as possible, into a position equal to that position before he was injured. If you are in the right you may be entitled to recover money for the following:
  • Nature, extent and duration of injuries
  • Pain and suffering from injuries
  • Disability, both temporary and permanent.
  • Reasonable expenses resulting from injury, including medical and hospital expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Value of damage to property
  • The Law requires insurance

The motor vehicle law of California now requires that all motor vehicles intended for use on public highways is covered by liability insurance. Certain vehicles are exempt from this requirement including inoperable or stored vehicles that are not operated. You must also have within the vehicle proof of insurance. Insurance companies issue insurance cards which comply with this requirement. The law allows the Secretary of State to request verification of insurance from you. Violations of this provision will result in significant financial penalties and may result in loss of driving privileges.

When an accident occurs, it is important for you to understand your legal rights and options, and how an Accident Lawyer can help you. An accident is unexpected and without intentional cause. Whether an accident was a result of lack of precaution or caused by a foreseeable event, an accident lawyer can be by your side.

If you were involved in an accident, you should gather all necessary information and refrain from signing any papers without consulting the Law Offices of Anthony Madrigal.

The Law Offices of Anthony Madrigal can help resolve the case quickly and effectively, especially when the accident results in injuries, wrongful death or high expense bills.

The Law Offices of Anthony Madrigal can help you get the compensation you need for your pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages.