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Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld

Relentlessly Protecting California Workers' Rights Since 1956

What Type of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can I Pursue If My Catastrophic Injuries Keep Me from Returning to Work?


Since 1956, our Santa Barbara workers’ compensation attorneys at Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld have protected the rights of injured California workers, helping to ensure they have access to the benefits they are entitled to based on the severity of their injuries.

Here, we discuss the most common types of workers’ compensation benefits that may apply when an individual sustains catastrophic injuries in their California workplace.

California Workers’ Compensation Benefits for the Catastrophically Injured

If you sustain catastrophic injuries that prevent you from returning to work, you may be eligible for various types of workers’ compensation benefits, which can provide financial support and assistance with medical expenses.

That may include:

  • Medical Benefits

Workers’ compensation should cover the costs of medical treatment related to your catastrophic injuries, including surgeries, rehabilitation, therapy, medications, and assistive devices. This coverage generally continues as long as the medical treatment is necessary.

  • Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits

TTD benefits are typically provided if you are temporarily unable to work due to your catastrophic injuries. These benefits are meant to replace some of your lost wages while you recover. The duration and amount of TTD benefits depend on the severity of the injury and your pre-injury earnings.

  • Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits

If your catastrophic injuries are so severe that you cannot return to any gainful employment, you may be eligible for PTD benefits. These benefits provide ongoing financial support, often based on a percentage of your pre-injury earnings.

  • Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits

If your injuries result in permanent impairments but do not entirely prevent you from working, you may be eligible for PPD benefits. The amount and duration of PPD benefits are typically determined based on the degree of impairment, as assessed by a workers’ compensation doctor.

  • Vocational Rehabilitation

If you cannot return to your previous job due to injuries, vocational rehabilitation services may help you acquire the skills needed for a new occupation or adapt to your limitations.

Your specific benefits will depend on your injuries’ severity and unique circumstances. Staying in close contact with your healthcare providers and rehabilitation specialists is crucial to document the extent of your injuries and your inability to return to work.

Do Your Catastrophic Injuries Qualify for Access to the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund?

Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF) is a California fund that provides additional workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers who have a pre-existing disability.

SIBTF benefits were designed to support employees who had a pre-existing disability, yet despite their disability, could find work — only to get injured again during their newest employment.

To qualify for SIBTF benefits, an individual must be substantially limited by the cumulative effects of their pre-existing and work-related disabilities. The SIBTF provides these injured workers with lifetime payments that help them support themselves and their families.

To qualify for SIBTF benefits in California, an injured worker must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a pre-existing, permanent partial disability.
  • Suffer an occupational illness or injury that causes partial permanent disability.
  • The pre-existing disability must be labor-disabling or ratable and industrial or non-industrial.
  • The pre-existing disability must result from an accident, disease, or congenital condition.
  • The degree of disability caused by the combination of both disabilities must be greater than that which would have resulted from the subsequent injury alone.
  • The new (subsequent) work injury must cause at least 35% permanent disability and be an industrial injury.
  • The total disability must be at least 70%.

Our skilled workers’ compensation attorneys specialize in catastrophic injury cases and can help you navigate the complex process and ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to, including SIBTF, when applicable to your claim.

We have six physical offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, and Visalia, and our top-tier technologies provide a virtual reach to serve clients throughout California. We offer free in-person, telephone, and virtual consultations to offer straightforward legal advice for your unique needs.

Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options. 

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