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California Workers' Compensation Laws

UPDATED: February 20, 2013

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California workers' compensation laws cover the issues that arise when workers are injured on the job, in workplace accidents, or develop illnesses over time due to work performed on the job, as well as illnesses or injuries caused by hazardous conditions at the workplace. The California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Workers' Compensation handles California workers' compensation cases and workers' compensation benefits. California law mandates that employers carry worker compensation insurance.


Claims under California Workers' Compensation

In California, if a worker is injured by a workplace accident, he or she may be compensated for the injury – unless the injury was self-inflicted or occurred because the worker was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Occupational illnesses are those that most likely develop over a period of time either because of the work the employee performs for his employer, or because hazardous conditions or exposure at the worksite cause an illness over time.

If an employee is injured or becomes ill at work and subsequently dies, California workers' compensation benefits include death benefits for a deceased employee's family and other dependents.


California Workers' Compensation Benefits

If you suffer from a workplace injury or from a disease contracted at work, you are most likely eligible for workers' compensation benefits in California. The following offers a more detailed look at these benefits.

Income Replacement Benefits

California workers' compensation includes payments made to injured employees while they are injured or ill. The type of income benefit depends on the kind and severity of the injury. Four types are possible: Temporary Total Disability, Temporary Partial Disability, Permanent Total Disability, and Permanent Partial Disability Benefits.

1) Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD): While an employee is injured in the short-term and her injury prevents her from working, she will receive 2/3 of her pre-injury average weekly wages each week under TTD.

2) Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD): If an employee is injured and cannot perform all of his old job duties, but is still able to do some kind of work (either at reduced hours or at a reduced wage), he will be paid a certain percentage to make up the difference between his current wage and his pre-injury wage each week, subject to a maximum and a minimum cap.

3) Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD): Your injury lasts for an indefinite period of time and it is unclear whether you will ever be able to return to work. You will receive a certain amount of compensation depending on your disability rating, the date of your injury, and the amount of your wages before your injury.

4) Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD): A worker will always suffer the effects of his injury, and may be able to do some work, but not to the extent that he did before. Such injuries include, for example, the loss of a finger or limb. If this is the case, he will get up to 2/3 of his pre-injury wage for as long as 619 weeks.

Additional California Workers' Compensation Benefits

Medical Treatment: An injured or ill employee will have her condition treated and bills paid by the employer's workers' compensation insurance so long as the injury or illness is work-related. Generally, the insurer will directly pay the employee's medical provider for all necessary treatment for the injury or illness.

Mileage Reimbursement: Your travel expenses to and from your medical appointments for your job-related illness or injury should be reimbursed by your employer's workers' compensation insurer, as well as some wages you lose traveling to and from your appointments.

Death Benefits: The relatives of an employee who dies from a work-connected injury are entitled to compensation for lost wages for a limited amount of time. Relatives may also receive money to pay for the worker's funeral costs.


California Workers' Compensation Statutes

See the California Labor Code.

Employers Subject To Workers' Compensation: California Labor Code, Part 1, Chp.2, Art. 1 §§ 3300-3302; Covered Employees: California Labor Code, Part 1, Chp.2, Art. 2 §§ 3350-3371; Benefits: California Labor Code, Chp.9, Art.2 §§ 4211-4214; Claims Procedure: California Labor Code, Part 4, Chp. 4 §§ 6140-6149.

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