What workers receive workers compensation benefit?
In California all employees that sustained a job related injury have eligibility to receive benefits under the California workers compensation system. If they even have a condition that existed before the job related injury, and that condition is made worse, that is also covered under the workers compensation system.
What types of job related injuries are there?
In California they recognize two types of injuries. One injury is a specific injury. A specific injury is an event that occurs at a particular place or time. For example, if I am lifting a box of goods, and then suddenly my back blows out that would be a specific injury. The other type of injury is a little more complex. It's called accumulative or continuous injury and that's something the evolves over a period of time. The example that is given is a paper clip, if you bend the paperclip and you bend it and eventually it breaks. Well if I engage in repetitive activities in my work situation such as typing, lifting, pushing, pulling, exposure to noise and those exposures cause a medical problem then that is also considered to be job related. So you either have a specific or the cumulative trauma.
What benefits can the injured workers receive?
There's a series of benefits, probably the most prominent benefit and the one that has the greatest value for the worker and the family is the medical care.
Medial care cures or relieves the effects of the injury. The medical care can be physical therapy, it can be medication, it can be surgery, or depending upon the severity of the injury the medical care can be a life long care. Such as a modification to the house, it can be care that expands to psychological care. This is one of the areas that the worker needs to be focused on, is the benefit of the medical care. The second benefit is temporary disability. If you have a job related injury and the job related injury precludes you from returning back to work and the employer does not have a light duty job that they can give to you that accommodates your medical condition you can receive up to .667 of your average weekly wages to a maximum of about $986 per week. The next benefit besides this, it would be some type of monies for a transition into a new career. The monies relative to that is very nominal. The major benefit that you can receive is the medical care. The secondary benefit is temporary disability, the third benefit is the transition. The final benefit is where the people ask, how much is my case worth? That's the major of the impairment. The impairment is the change in your physical function after the job related injury and after the doctor has indicated that you've received your maximum medical care. Kind of an ancillary to this is that if I have a job related condition and I take medications for the job related condition and the medication then creates another medical problem that then becomes the responsibility of the employer.