O'Mara & Padilla, Attorneys at Law
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The workers' compensation appeals process

Most Californians go to work every day without much thought about their safety. They simply want to go in, put in their time, make their wages, and, hopefully, make some sort of difference in the world. Some jobs are inherently dangerous, though, like those of police officers, firefighters, and construction workers. Yet, even those who work in jobs that seem completely safe can be subjected to a workplace injury. When a worker suffers an on-the-job injury, he or she may struggle to make ends meet since they may not be able to earn a wage while they recover, and medical expenses can accumulate. Fortunately, the workers' compensation system may provide relief.

However, before workers' compensation benefits will be granted, an injured worker must prove that he or she qualifies. This isn't always an easy task, and, in fact, many individuals see their initial claim denied. There can be many reasons for a denial, including lack of convincing medical evidence as well as failing to satisfactorily show that the injury in question was work-related. When this happens, an injured worker should consider appealing the decision.

The first appellate step is to file a petition with the Workers' Compensation Appellate Board. This group is comprised of seven members, five of whom are attorneys. In order to appeal a claim, the petition for reconsideration must be properly filed, at which time it will be reviewed by a three-person panel, made up of members of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board. However, the claim is reviewed by each panel member individually and an opinion is only issued once two of the three members make the same decision. If an individual does not agree with this decision, then a claim can be appealed to the court of appeals and, in rare circumstances, the state's Supreme Court.

Workers' compensation benefits can be a financial lifesaver for those who are injured in a workplace accident. The process to recover these benefits can be challenging, though, which is why injured workers need to make sure they are putting forth the best claim they can given the circumstances. Many individuals may find the assistance of a legal professional to be beneficial.

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