Workers' Compensation Frequently Asked Questions
Until you or a loved one is injured, you probably haven't thought about the Workers' Compensation system. Workers' Compensation laws in California are constantly changing, making things very complicated. Take some time and read about what's involved.
Learn How a Workers' Compensation Case Is Resolved
Findings and Award
A judge at the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) decides claims. The judge's decision, called a Findings and Award, may provide for future medical care, and may be reopened within five years of the date of the injury. If both sides agree on all issues, they may sign a stipulated request for an award. The judge may base an award on this request. Payments are made every two weeks.
Compromise and Release
In other cases, both sides to a claim may decide to agree on a lump sum payment to settle the case. This settlement is called a Compromise and Release and must be approved by the WCAB judge. Once approved, the employer is released from all responsibility for future medical care and other benefits.
Discover if a Case Can be Reopened
— Keep an Eye on the Calendar
If your work-related condition worsens, you may petition to reopen a case within five years from the date of injury after previously being awarded Workers' Compensation benefits by Findings and Award.
Even if you never took legal action, you may be able to file for benefits by filing a Petition to Reopen. If you believe you may be entitled to additional benefits, see a lawyer before the end of five years from the date of the injury.
Look Into Other Benefits
If you have an injury or illness serious enough to prevent you from returning to work, you may be eligible for Social Security disability. To qualify, you must have paid into the Social Security system in 20 of the last 40 quarters and are likely to be off work at least one full year. If you feel this applies to you, contact your attorney for more information.
Public employees who have retirement programs other than Social Security, may be eligible for disability benefits under the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), State Teachers' Retirement System (STRS) or county, city or other retirement systems.
Under certain circumstances you may also be eligible for state disability insurance, unemployment insurance, long-term disability, etc.
Speak with Your Attorney About Your Rights
If you believe you have suffered discrimination due to a physical or mental disability, see your attorney about rights you be entitled to under state and federal laws (the Fair Employment Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act) that prohibit discrimination due to handicaps. There are strict time limits for filing such cases. Please check with your attorney.
Find out What to do if a Third Party is Involved When You're Hurt at Work
Please see third-party cases.
If You're Wondering How You Pay Your Workers' Compensation Attorney
It is your right to be represented by an attorney for your Workers' Compensation case. All attorneys' fees are decided by the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB), and are paid out of the settlement or award. If there is no recovery, you do not pay an attorney fee. Fees are generally 15% of the benefits awarded.