From back or joint pain that develops over time to sudden accidents, employees in many types of jobs may find that their work puts their own health at risk. The National Safety Council reports that over 4.5 million U.S. workers suffer job-related injuries each year.
In California, all employers with at least one employee must provide workers’ compensation insurance to help cover costs related to treatment, recovery and lost wages. Unfortunately, all too often employees do not realize that they may be eligible for these important benefits.
1. Workers’ compensation covers medical care
Regardless of whether a job-related injury or illness causes an employee to miss time from work, an employer’s insurance provider must cover the cost of treatments necessary for recovery. In addition to emergency care or hospitalization, this may include prescriptions, laboratory tests, physical therapy and travel costs related to receiving treatment.
2. Temporary workers may be eligible for benefits
In California, temporary employees may be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage either through their employer or through their staffing agency. Part-time employees may also be eligible for benefits, no matter how many or few hours a week they work.
3. Undocumented workers may be eligible for benefits
In 2015, California passed a law that entitles workers to injury-related compensation benefits regardless of immigration status. If an employer does not have insurance or refuses to pay benefits, undocumented employees may receive coverage through a state fund.
4. It does not matter who was at fault
Workers’ comp entitles employees to benefits even if their own negligence caused a job-related injury. Additionally, an injured worker does not have to prove that an employer or coworker was at fault to receive benefits.
5. Employer retaliation for filing a claim is illegal
It is against California law for an employer to punish or otherwise discriminate against a worker who files an injury claim. Employers who do so may have to pay additional compensation to the injured employee, including reimbursement for lost wages.