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Injured at work? Know which benefits you're entitled to receive

You have been injured on the job. Who is paying your medical bills? Which doctor should you choose? What happens if you cannot go right back to work? What does this mean for you and your family? You know there is something available called workers' compensation benefits, but you are not sure exactly what they cover or what steps you are responsible for.

In California, there are four general benefits available to you through workers' comp depending on the extent of your injury, subsequent care and recovery.

  • Medical care: If you have been injured, you are entitled to "reasonable medical treatment" of your work-related injuries (and/or illnesses). Treatment guidelines have been established for treating physicians to follow and all medical care that meets the guidelines will be paid for by your employer.
  • Temporary disability benefits: This benefit is in place to supplement lost wages if your injury prevents you from returning to work during your recovery. If you are hospitalized overnight or your doctor determines you cannot work for more than three days, then you are eligible for two-thirds of your pre-tax wages. Please note that there are maximum weekly amounts established by law.
  • Permanent disability benefits: Should your workplace injury permanently affect your ability to work, you may be entitled to permanent disability benefits - partial disability even if you eventually return to work. There are several factors that determine whether you would qualify for money under this benefit including, but not limited to: the date of your original injury, the level of impairment, your age and occupation. A judge will make the ultimate decision based on the formula laid out by the law.
  • Supplemental job displacement benefits: These benefits are in place for employees with permanent partial disability because of the workplace injury that occurred on or after January 1, 2004. If you qualify for this benefit, you are entitled to a voucher that can be used for education or training. Again, specific criteria have been established that take into account the degree of impairment and when you were injured (the law changed in January 2013).

Navigating the complex workers' comp system can be overwhelming, especially when you are supposed to be recuperating from an injury. Attorneys at Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld are available to help injured workers through this process. For more information on our services, please visit our workers' compensation page.

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