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gilroy workers comp lawyerThere are many ways a person may be injured in the workplace or because of work-related activities and tasks. While workers’ compensation covers situations where employees are injured while working, there are some cases where workers and employers may disagree about whether an injury was work-related. These disagreements often address pre-existing conditions, and an employer may claim that an employee’s injury was solely the result of a non-work-related illness or health condition rather than the work the person performed or the conditions in the workplace. However, workers’ comp benefits are available in cases where a work injury resulted in the aggravation of a pre-existing condition. Workers with pre-existing conditions will want to understand how the California Department of Workers’ Compensation decides whether work-related factors aggravated their injuries or health issues.

Workers’ Comp Benefits for New Injuries or Illnesses

In general, workers’ compensation covers new injuries that occurred due to workplace accidents, conditions that affect a person while working, or work-related activities that a person engages in. An injury may be considered an aggravation of a pre-existing condition if a worker experienced a temporary or permanent increase in disability or required new medical treatment or changes in the medical treatment that they had been receiving. However, there are some situations where a recurrence of a previous injury or health condition may be considered an “exacerbation” rather than a new injury. 

To determine whether a pre-existing injury or illness was aggravated by a work-related injury, the Department of Workers’ Compensation may consider:

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gilroy workers compensation lawyerWhen working for an employer, workers have certain rights, including the ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits when they experience work-related injuries. While these benefits are available in most situations where a person suffers an injury or illness that occurred while they were working or was related to the work they performed, there are some situations where questions may arise about whether an injury was truly work-related. By understanding how work injuries are defined, a person can ensure that they will be able to receive the benefits they deserve.

Determining Whether an Injury Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation

Generally, an injury will be considered work-related if events or conditions in their work environment caused or contributed to the injury. This means that if a person was injured in a workplace accident or experienced health issues that occurred while they were working or because of work-related activities, they will qualify for workers’ compensation.

There are a few exceptions that may apply to injuries that take place in a person’s work environment, including:

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gilroy workers compensation lawyerA person who suffers injuries while working will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In many cases, an injured worker will file a workers’ comp claim for injuries that occurred in workplace accidents. However, benefits are also available in situations where a person experienced illnesses or health issues that were related to the work they have performed. When addressing occupational diseases, workers can get legal help from an attorney who can help them understand the types of benefits they can receive and address any issues that may affect their ability to receive workers’ comp benefits.

When Is an Illness or Disease Work-Related?

Workers’ compensation is available to address any health issues that arose out of the work a person has performed. Work-related illnesses may occur because of issues such as:

  • Exposure to toxic chemicals - A person may be exposed to harmful substances due to an accident in the workplace. For example, a chemical spill at a factory may release toxic fumes that are inhaled by workers, leading to issues such as lung injuries, skin disorders, or chemical burns. A person may also experience health issues due to regular exposure to low levels of toxic chemicals. For instance, agricultural workers may be exposed to pesticides on a daily basis, and these chemicals may cause illnesses such as respiratory disorders or cancer.

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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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