Accidents can happen at any time, including at work. If you are a California employee who was injured on the job or while performing work duties, it is important that you understand your rights and legal options. In many cases, workers' compensation is one option for reimbursement for a work-related injury or illness.
Safe Working Conditions
California law (specifically the California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973) clearly states that an employer is legally obligated to provide and maintain a safe and healthful workplace for you, the employee.
Workers' Compensation as Exclusive Remedy
Generally, workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy for a work-related injury or illness. There are exceptions which experienced personal injury lawyer in the San Fernando Valley can address. After you are injured, you must file a workers' compensation claim through the state administrative agency. Employers pay into the state system by purchasing workers' compensation insurance to pay medical expenses and lost wages of employees that result from an occupational accident.
Exceptions to Workers' Compensation Exclusivity
Workers' compensation does not bar claims for conduct or actions that are not a normal part of the employment relationship. For example, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination are not an expected part of an employment relationship, and San Fernando Valley employers may be liable outside of the workers' compensation system for resulting physical or emotional injuries.
If you were injured by intentional, deliberate, or egregious conduct of another person, including your employer, you might be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that person.
If you were injured by a defective product, machine, or piece of equipment, you might be able to bring a products liability action against the manufacturer of the product.
If you were injured by a toxic substance, you might be able to bring a toxic tort lawsuit against the manufacturer of the substance.
Employee Liability for Injuries
Because workers' compensation is often the exclusive remedy for an injured employee, an employee's compensation or right to benefits is generally not affected by the employee's negligence, or careless behavior. For example, if an employee was injured at a time that he/she was not handling a machine properly, the employee's own negligence does not reduce the workers' compensation benefits.
Exceptions to the Liability Rule
There are exceptions to the rule above. Certain causes of injury may result in reduction or loss of workers' compensation benefits. For example, if a violation of express company safety policy, self-inflicted injury, or intoxication is a factor contributing to your injury, your claim may be denied.
San Fernando Valley employers are required to purchase workers' compensation insurance for employees, and independent contractors are generally not covered. However, there is a chance that an independent contractor was misclassified and should be labeled an employee. Even though a judge or referee at the Worker's Compensation Board may consider the way the parties label their relationship, those classifications usually do not determine the outcome of the case.