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gilroy workers compensation lawyerBeing injured while on the job can lead to many difficulties, especially if a person is unable to return to work while they are recovering. If an injury is serious enough, it can permanently affect the types of work that a person can perform, and this can impact the income they will be able to earn during the rest of their career. Fortunately, a person who suffers an on-the-job injury will usually qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. However, navigating the process of filing a workers’ comp claim can be complicated, and it is important to understand how both temporary and permanent disability benefits will be handled in these cases.

Disability Benefits in CA Workers’ Compensation Cases

If an injury causes a person to miss more than three days of work, or if they need to spend the night in a hospital while receiving treatment, they can begin receiving temporary disability (TD) benefits. These benefits will provide two-thirds of the amount lost due to being unable to work. In total disability cases, a person will receive two-thirds of their pre-tax wages. In partial disability cases where a person can work part-time or at a lower wage while recovering, they will receive two-thirds of the difference between their pre-injury wages and the amount they are currently earning. Notably, TD benefits are calculated based on all of the income a person was able to earn before being injured, including hourly wages, overtime, salary, bonuses, tips, commissions, food and lodging expenses, and income earned from other jobs.

TD benefits may be paid for a maximum of 104 weeks within five years after a person was injured. These benefits will stop being paid when a person’s doctor releases them to return to the work they had formerly performed. TD benefits will also stop when a person reaches the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI), even if they suffer permanent impairments that will cause them to be unable to return to work fully. In these cases, a person may qualify for permanent disability (PD) benefits.

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california truck driver injury lawyerEmployees who suffer work-related injuries can receive workers’ compensation benefits that will address their medical expenses and loss of income due to temporary or permanent disabilities. These benefits may be available to truck drivers who suffer on-the-job injuries. However, a truck driver’s ability to receive workers’ comp may be affected by their classification as an employee or independent contractor. Those who have suffered injuries will want to determine their options for receiving benefits or other forms of compensation.

Legal Issues Affecting Workers’ Compensation for Truck Drivers

Employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance that will provide coverage for employees who are injured while working. However, many truck drivers are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. Since they do not work directly for a trucking company or motor carrier, independent contractors may not be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. 

However, recent changes to the laws in California and ongoing court cases may affect how truck drivers are classified. AB5, a law that went into effect in 2020, applies what is known as an “ABC test” to determine whether a worker may be classified as an employee or independent contractor. Under this test, a worker may only be considered an independent contractor if they are not under the direct control of a hiring company when performing work, they perform work that is outside of a hiring company’s typical business practices, and they are involved in an independently established business or occupation. Under these rules, some truck drivers may be able to receive the benefits that apply to employees. The California Trucking Association has filed a lawsuit challenging this law, and a court has allowed it to be temporarily exempted from these rules. Depending on how this case proceeds, truck drivers’ ability to be classified as employees and receive workers’ compensation benefits may change in the future.

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gilroy workers compensation lawyerThere are multiple types of protections that apply to employees. Those injured in work-related accidents or who suffer health conditions because of their work have the right to receive workers’ compensation. A person will be eligible for these benefits no matter who was responsible for an injury. However, there are some cases where an employer or the company that provides them with workers’ compensation insurance may attempt to deny benefits by claiming that an injury was not work-related. If you have been injured in a workplace accident, or if you have suffered another type of work-related injury, you will want to make sure you take the correct steps to protect your right to receive workers’ compensation.

Steps to Follow After a Work Injury

  1. Report the injury to your employer - As soon as possible after being injured in a workplace accident or becoming aware of a work-related injury, you should inform your employer. You can notify a supervisor, a member of management, or a business owner. If you do not report an injury within 30 days after the injury occurred or after you discovered that work conditions affected your health, you may lose the right to make a workers’ compensation claim.

  2. Receive emergency medical treatment - Following an accident, you should go to an emergency room, urgent care center, or another medical provider to receive any immediate necessary treatment. When receiving treatment, you can inform the provider that your injury is work-related, letting them know that they should bill your employer for the treatment rather than requiring you to make payments.

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gilroy workers comp lawyerAnyone who has made an insurance claim is most likely familiar with the ways that a pre-existing condition can affect a case. Insurance companies may attempt to deny coverage because a person has previous injuries or existing health issues. This issue can also play a role in cases involving workers’ compensation insurance. An employer or their insurer may attempt to deny a claim by stating that a person’s injuries were not work-related but caused by a pre-existing condition. Injured workers will want to understand how to address these types of issues, and when they can make a workers’ comp claim based on the aggravation of a pre-existing condition.

Determining Whether an Injury Is Work-Related

Employees can receive workers’ compensation benefits for any injuries or illnesses that occurred due to the work they performed for an employer. In some cases, an employer or their insurer may claim that an injury occurred because of a person’s existing injuries or health issues rather than anything related to the work they performed. However, an injury or illness can only be considered a pre-existing condition if it was solely caused by an event that was not work-related or if it occurred outside of the work environment. If an injury or illness was partially caused by a pre-existing condition, the workers’ comp benefits a person can receive may be reduced based on the percentage of the injury that was related to their existing health issues.

Is an Aggravation of a Pre-existing Condition a New Injury?

If a workplace accident, an occupational illness, or the work a person performs causes a person’s existing injuries or health issues to become worse, they may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Typically, benefits will be available if the aggravation of a pre-existing condition is considered to be a new injury that occurred because of the work a person has performed. In general, a new injury must have led to temporary or permanent disabilities that are more serious than what a person had previously experienced, or new forms of medical treatment or changes to a person’s current treatment plan must be necessary to address the aggravation of a person’s condition.

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gilroy workers comp lawyerThere are many high-risk occupations where workers are at risk of being seriously injured. The agricultural industry is one of the most common sources of work-related injuries, and there are many ways that farm workers can suffer serious harm while on the job. Accidents involving tractors and other farm equipment can be especially dangerous, and workers who have suffered injuries in these types of accidents can work with an attorney to determine their options for receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Common Tractor Accidents and Equipment-Related Injuries

Tractors are one of the most frequent sources of serious or fatal injuries on farms. Workers who are operating tractors or who are working near tractors or other equipment, such as harvesters and combines, may be injured because of:

  • Rollovers/runovers - Tractors or other equipment may roll over for a variety of reasons, including driving at unsafe speeds, striking rocks or other hazards, operating a tractor incorrectly on steep slopes, or improper use of front-end loaders or other equipment attached to a tractor. Negligent operation of a tractor may also cause a worker to be run over. If a tractor rolls over on top of a worker or runs over a person, this may result in serious bodily harm, including damage to limbs requiring amputation or spinal cord injuries leading to paralysis. A tractor operator may also be injured in a rollover accident if a tractor did not have roll bars or other safety equipment meant to prevent injuries.

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