If you suffered a work-related injury or illness on the job in California, you may be wondering about the costs you may face and what benefits you are entitled to. Understanding your rights to compensation and benefits as a California employee is essential if you become ill or injured on the job.

Is it Mandatory for Companies in California to Provide Workers’ Compensation To Employees?

In the State of California, companies are required to provide workers’ compensation to their employees, even if they only have one employee. This requirement falls under California Labor Code Section 3700:

Every employer except the state shall secure the payment of compensation in one or more of the following ways,

(a) By being insured against liability to pay compensation by one or more insurers duly authorized to write compensation insurance in this state.

(b) By securing from the Director of Industrial Relations a certificate of consent to self-insure either as an individual employer or as one employer in a group of employers…

(c) For any county, city, city and county, municipal corporation, public district, public agency, or any political subdivision of the state, including each member of a pooling arrangement under a joint exercise of powers agreement (but not the state itself)…

Business owners in California must carry workers’ compensation insurance for all employees who regularly work, even if the business’s main office is located in another state. California workers’ compensation benefits are not just for full-time employees. All part-time employees in California qualify for workers’ compensation benefits under the law if they have been injured on the job.

What Benefits Are Available to Injured Employees?

A worker who is injured or becomes ill on the job in California is entitled to the following benefits:

Medical Treatment

Medical treatments are paid directly by your employer to help you recover from a work-related injury or illness. Medical treatment benefits include:

  • Doctor visits
  • Medicines
  • Travel costs
  • Tests

Temporary Disability

Temporary Disability benefits are payments for lost wages due to an injury or illness that prevents you from completing your daily work tasks. These benefits begin when your doctor proves that you are unable to work for more than three days, as it could result in a hospital overnight stay. Insurance companies must also agree that your injury is a work-related injury, or no benefits will be provided.

There are two categories when referring to Temporary Disability benefits.

  • Temporary Partial Disability: Temporary Partial Disability benefits are awarded when an employee can only complete part of their regular daily tasks. A supplemental income of ⅔ of your wages and benefits will be given to an employee as a result.
  • Temporary Total Disability: Temporary Total Disability benefits are rewarded when an employee is unable to perform any of their regular daily tasks. A bi-monthly check of ⅔ of your income will be given to an employee until they are able to carry out their daily work duties in full.

Permanent Disability

Permanent Disability benefits are lifelong or long-term benefits given to employees who have to suffer lasting effects from a work injury. In order to qualify for permanent disability, you must provide evidence that you are unable to perform your regular daily tasks due to your work-related injury or illness.

There are two categories when referring to Permanent Disability benefits:

  • Permanent Partial Disability: Permanent Partial Disability benefits are awarded to employees whose ability to work is permanently lost. Some examples of permanent impairments include back pain that does not respond to medical care, permanent hearing loss, paralyzed limb, or PTSD.
  • Permanent Total Disability: Permanent Total Disability benefits are awarded when an employee is able to prove that their injuries completely get in the way of their ability to work. If qualified, an employee will receive ⅔ of their income bi-monthly for the rest of their lives.

Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits

If an employee’s work injury or illness left them with lasting limitations, a voucher may be awarded to assist them with finding a new job. An employee may be entitled to Supplemental Job Displace benefits if:

  • their employer hasn’t offered a modified or alternative work environment that meets an employee’s requirements, and
  • an employee has a permanent partial disability because of a work-related injury or illness.

According to workers’ compensation lawyers at DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo in Riverside, California, “Any activity that benefits your employer financially is typically considered work-related, regardless of where you are physically located at the time of the accident.

It is important that you understand California’s Workers’ Compensation Laws in the event that you are injured in the workplace and need to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer.

Can I Be Terminated While on Workers’ Compensation in California?

Under California law, employers are not allowed to fire someone because they filed a workers’ compensation claim for a workplace injury or illness. Although, this does not mean that an employer can’t terminate an employee for any reason. In California, employees are considered “at-will,” meaning an employee can quit or be fired at any time for any reason, as long as it does not violate the law.