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California law could impact compensation for workplace accidents

Posted on in Workplace Accidents

A worker injured on the job can face a number of financial problems. Construction accidents, driving accidents and injuries from defective equipment can leave workers with medical bills and other expenses. The system of workers' compensation insurance is designed to protect workers in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the state from shouldering those high costs on their own.

For anyone who was recently injured or is currently seeking workers' compensation benefits in California, things just got more complicated, however. State legislators overwhelmingly passed a bill that revises the state's system by limiting lawsuits for workplace injuries and increasing disability benefits. Now, anyone injured at work must navigate a new process to in order to find financial relief.

Those who turn to the workers' compensation system may find that the payments they receive are not equivalent to their average wage. This is because workers' compensation is set up to provide benefits to people who sustain a work injury, regardless of whether an employer or the employee is at fault. The workers' compensation system was not set up to fully compensate an employee for all potential damages, as in a civil lawsuit, or to provide benefits for harm caused by a third party, such as the maker of a defective product or a subcontractor of the employer. Instead, compensation from third parties requires a separate legal claim.

Workplace injuries call for a careful investigation to ensure that a victim has access to all necessary options for recovery. The new state legislation could increase some disability benefits for those who suffer an injury at work, but in turn, may also make the system more confusing for victims and victim advocates.

Source: Reuters, "California lawmakers overhaul workplace injury insurance," Jim Christie, Aug. 31, 2012

Our law firm helps people injured in the workplace when workers compensation benefits are insufficient to cover losses or when harm was caused by a third party.

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