Experienced California Attorney Answers Frequently Asked Questions about Workers’ Compensation, Personal Injury & Social Security Disability
If you suffered an on-the-job injury or another serious injury and are disabled from working, you probably imagine that you are entitled to benefits, but you may have many questions about how you go about collecting those benefits. It is important to understand your rights, because if you do not file the right claim in a timely manner, you can find yourself shut out from receiving the benefits which are rightfully yours. Below are answers to some of the questions frequently encountered by attorney Warren Sieder of Sieder Law Corporation in Los Angeles as he helps injured workers and others throughout California recover the compensation that is due to them.
What happens if I’m injured on the job and my boss doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance coverage?
Employers who do not carry workers’ compensation coverage as required by law can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and face fines up to $10,000, as well as be sentenced to up to one year in jail. In addition, they can be assessed civil penalties of $2,000 or $10,000 per employee, up to a total of $100,000. A Stop Work Order can also be issued against any employer who doesn’t have required coverage in place.
As an employee, you can receive compensation for your injuries from the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund. You can also sue your employer for the maximum amount of damages recoverable by law. We can help you file a claim directly against an uninsured employer.
My injury happened because the boss refused to correct a dangerous condition that existed in the workplace for months before the accident. Am I entitled to any extra compensation?
According to California Labor Code section 4553, when your injury is caused by the employer’s “serious and willful misconduct,” you are entitled to collect one and a half times the compensation award, along with up to $250 in costs and expenses. The law does not define what constitutes “serious and willful misconduct,” but courts have applied section 4553 in cases where the employer knew about a dangerous condition but deliberately failed to correct it. The burden is on you to prove the facts necessary to establish such a claim, such as by showing a Cal/OSHA safety order or citation. We can evaluate your case and help you pursue a “serious and willful misconduct” claim where appropriate.
I was injured in a car accident, and the insurance company says I am partly to blame because I didn’t try harder to avoid getting hit. Can they refuse to pay for my injuries and expenses?
The rule under California negligence law is that any percentage of blame assigned to you will reduce the amount of your award proportionately. This does not mean, however, that you should accept what the insurance company is offering you or let them avoid paying your claim. Their assessment of the accident is likely designed to emphasize your negligence and downplay their own insured’s responsibility, in order to pay as little as possible or deny your claim altogether. If you dispute the insurance company’s appraisal of the situation, and a satisfactory agreement can’t be worked out, you can take the other driver to court, where a jury will decide who is to blame and how much of the fault to allocate to each party. With Sieder Law Corporation on your side, we will make sure you are not unfairly painted with any of the responsibility for the accident which doesn’t actually belong to you.
Can I collect Social Security Disability benefits while I am out of work and recovering from my workplace injury?
Social Security Disability benefits are only meant to compensate you if you are permanently disabled from working. In fact, the Social Security Administration uses very strict definitions and multiple tests to determine that you are permanently disabled before they will pay disability benefits. If you are only temporarily disabled from working, the appropriate source for financial help is California workers’ compensation, which pays medical benefits and wage replacement for a temporary total disability or a temporary partial disability caused by a workplace accident or other job-related injury.