Do You Need a Workers’ Comp Attorney?
When you think of high-risk jobs, firefighters, police officers, construction workers, and loggers usually come to mind. These professions face constant risk in the form of toxic chemicals, falls, violence, and excessive heat. If you suffered a work injury or illness working in a high-risk industry or even a low one, you may be wondering whether to file a workers’ comp claim. You may also ask yourself if you need to hire a workers’ comp attorney. An experienced attorney can guide you through the complex process and help you obtain the workers compensation coverage you deserve.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Employees who get injured or sick because of their work receive benefits from the workers’ compensation system. A workers’ compensation insurance policy is a requirement for all businesses with employees in California. Some workers’ compensation benefits include:
- Medical expenses for treating the work-related injury or illness
- Wage loss benefits for the time off work due to the injury or illness
- Social security disability benefits for partial or permanent impairment caused by the injury or illness
- Ongoing care costs for rehabilitation or long-term care
- Death benefits for the surviving family members of a worker who dies from a work-related injury or illness
The workers comp system is a no-fault system, which means that employees do not have to prove that their employer was negligent or responsible for their injury or illness. However, employees give up their right to sue their employer for damages in most cases.
What Are the Most High-Risk Jobs?
Some industries have higher rates of workers’ compensation claims than others, due to the nature and frequency of the risks involved. These are the five industries with the highest workers’ compensation claims in the U.S.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the healthcare industry reports higher rates of illness and injury than any other private industry sector, with more than 580,000 cases per year. The healthcare industry also had the highest number of days away from work cases due to injuries and illnesses, namely due to COVID-19. Doctors, nurses, first responders, and other healthcare workers often work in stressful and tense environments. They also tend to work long hours and are exposed to sick patients.
The transportation and warehousing industry comprises of truck drivers, delivery drivers, couriers, warehouse workers, and air transportation workers. This industry is one of the most hazardous industries for workers. They face risks such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, slips, trips, lifting injuries, exposure to harmful substances, and fatigue.
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the farming and fishing industry experienced the highest death rate per 100,000 workers. Farmworkers may be injured when driving tractors, using machinery, or dealing with animals. Fishing workers face treacherous working conditions out on the sea and are at a high risk of drowning.
Composed of carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, painters, and masons, the construction industry employs more than 7 million people. Roofers, who are responsible for installing, repairing, and replacing roofs, can be injured in slip, trip, and fall accidents. Other workers use heavy machinery, power tools, and and hazardous materials, which can cause injuries such as cuts, burns, fractures, and amputations.
People in manufacturing jobs are at a higher risk of a serious injury because they operate heavy machinery and power tools that can malfunction, jam, or kick back. They are also at a higher risk of developing repetitive stress injuries due to repetitive motions, lifting, and bending that can strain their muscles, joints, and nerves.
What Should You Do If You Are Injured on the Job?
If you are injured on the job, take the following steps to protect your well-being and legal rights:
- Report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. In California, injured workers must report their injury within 30 days of the accident. When first reporting the incident, the injured worker should include the date, time, and location of the accident, names of any witnesses, and the cause of the accident.
- Seek medical treatment. Even if your injury seems minor, it is important to see a doctor to get it checked out. This is especially important if you have any pain or discomfort, or if you think your injury may have caused any underlying health problems. Your employer may select a doctor for you, or you can choose your own physician.
- File a workers’ compensation claim. Your employer should provide you with a claim form that you need to fill out and submit to start the claim process. The claim form will ask for information about your injury, your work history, your wages, and your dependents.
- Keep a record of your injury. This includes keeping track of your medical bills, lost wages, and any other costs associated with your injury. You should also keep a record of any communications you have with your employer, your doctor, or your workers’ compensation insurance company.
- Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer. You should not sign any documents or accept any settlements without consulting a workers’ comp lawyer first. With the right legal representation, you can feel at ease knowing you will be taken care of.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Help You?
The workers’ compensation process is notoriously complex, not to mention many companies try to deny workplace injuries. This is where an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can really make a difference. An attorney can evaluate your case, determine the benefits you are entitled to, and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
If your workers’ comp claim was denied or you feel you were not properly compensated, a workers comp’ attorney can appeal the decision and further investigate your claim. They can also help you if you have a potential third-party claim against someone other than your employer who was responsible for your injury. For example, if you were injured by a defective product, a negligent driver, or a subcontractor, you may be able to sue them for damages in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits.
Sierra Accident Lawyers
If a job injured you or a loved one, the workers’ compensation lawyers at Sierra Accident Lawyers today can help you recover the benefits you deserve. We have helped countless injured workers obtain fair compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and more through successful workers’ compensation cases.
Our personal injury law firm in San Bernardino County accepts all cases on a contingency fee, meaning we do not ask for any legal fees unless we win your case. Call our workers’ comp attorney today at (909) 942-7632 for a free consultation and let us help you with your workers’ compensation claim.