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Know Your Rights and Workers’ Compensation Options

Our Santa Rosa workers' compensation lawyers encourage everyone to know your rights and workers’ compensation options.

As an employee in California, you have certain legal rights and protections. It is important to understand your rights after incurring any work-related injury or occupational illness. Some employers are not helpful about explaining your rights after a workplace accident and sharing benefits information.

At the Law Office of Richard J. Meechan, based in Santa Rosa, we have fought for more than two decades to protect the rights of employees who have sustained injuries on the job. Workplace injuries may occur from a specific incident or develop gradually over time due to stress caused by repetitive motion or exposure. Injuries may include problems such as hypertension, heart disease or exposure to toxic fumes or chemicals.

A lack of understanding of your workers’ compensation options and rights can cost you money when you need it most. The attorneys at the Law Office of Richard J. Meechan are ready to help you understand your legal options so that you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled.

California Rights and Stipulations

Employers in California have a legal duty to protect workers from injury and provide a workplace free of recognized hazards. Employers are required to have in place an injury and illness prevention program. As an employee, you have a right to a safe workplace. Even so, accidents happen.

You have a right to safety equipment such as fall protection, ear protection and respirators free of charge if the job involves working at heights or working around harmful fumes, dust or loud noise.

If you are injured on the job, your employer is required by law to pay you workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault in the accident.  You may lose your right to workers’ compensation benefits, however, if you are intoxicated or high on drugs on the job at the time of the workplace accident or if you assaulted another worker and threw the first punch.

green arrow bullet You have the right to medical treatment for on-the-job injuries or diseases acquired as a result of your job or in the course of your employment.

brown arrow bullet You have a right to pre-designate your doctor as your treating physician in the event of a work-related injury. The doctor must agree in writing to be the primary treating physician.

green arrow bullet You have a right to emergency medical care after a traumatic accident on the job.

brown arrow bullet You have a right to paid medical care as long as it is medically necessary, although some treatments are limited by law.

green arrow bullet You have a right to request an independent medical review to resolve a dispute if you disagree with what the treating physician says about your injury or illness or your return to work.

brown arrow bullet If your claim has been rejected, you have a right to request an evaluation with a doctor designated as a qualified medical evaluator to determine if your claim is valid.

green arrow bullet You have a right to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault.

brown arrow bullet You have a right to temporary disability benefits if your injury keeps you from working.

green arrow bullet You cannot be punished or fired as a result of your job-related injury or because you filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

brown arrow bullet You do not have to be a legal resident of the United States to collect most workers’ compensation benefits in California.

green arrow bullet Your employer is responsible for paying all bills associated with your job-related injury or illness, if the employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance.

brown arrow bullet You have a right to file a civil claim against your employer if the employer is illegally uninsured for workplace injuries and illnesses.

green arrow bullet You have the right to be free of discrimination on the job.

brown arrow bullet You have the right to reasonable accommodations.

green arrow bullet The spouse and children of a worker killed in a work-related accident have a right to death benefits.

Time Constraints

If you have a work-related injury or illness, you are required to notify your company of your injury or illness as soon as possible. If your employer does not receive notification about your injury within 30 days, you could lose your right to claim workers’ compensation benefits.

Some injuries occur on a specific date as a result of one incident, such as trauma caused by a machine or a motor vehicle accident. Other injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, back strain and stress are cumulative injuries. The day the doctor diagnoses your cumulative injury or informs you that you need to take time off work become the date of injury in the case of cumulative injuries.

Once you report your injury to your employer, your employer must give or send you a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form within one working day after your employer receives notification of your injury. Fill out the form and return it promptly to your employer to avoid possible problems with your claim.

Your employer is required to forward the claim form along with the worker’s report on a job-related injury or illness to the claim’s administrator within one business day of receipt of it.

If you fail to report a workplace injury until after receiving a layoff notice, your employer may dispute your right to receive benefits.

Do You Need an Employment Attorney?

California’s workers’ compensation system is complicated, particularly if your employer is disputing your right to receive benefits. It is important to be represented by a knowledgeable attorney who knows the ins and outs of the workers’ compensation system and how to use it to your advantage. Your attorney can help you obtain an independent medical review if you disagree with the treating doctor’s recommendation to return to work.

The Law Office of Richard J. Meechan concentrates on helping injured workers.

lawyers iconAttorney Richard J. Meechan is a Board–Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist and has passed a special bar exam in workers’ compensation law. He has a thorough understanding of the rights of injured workers and the responsibilities of employers to provide benefits after accidents. If you are having difficulty obtaining workers’ compensation benefits in Sonoma County or are unsure what benefits you should receive, contact the Law Office of Richard J. Meechan for assistance.

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