Maybe you were injured in a workplace accident. Maybe you were exposed to toxic chemicals on the job. Maybe your condition is a result of repetitive stress. In any of these situations, you may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. However, the first step to getting the help you need is understanding how the system works - and how it doesn't.
Here are five common myths about workers' compensation benefits in California:
Myth #1: You don't get enough to make filing a claim worthwhile.
On the contrary, workers' compensation can provide a wide array of benefits. According to California's Department of Industrial Relations, these benefits include medical care, paychecks to help cover temporary or permanent disability, supplemental job displacement benefits to help pay for retraining and more.
Myth #2: If your employer calls you an independent contractor, you're not eligible for benefits.
This is only true if you actually are an independent contractor according to the court's definition. If your employer simply gave you that title, it doesn't disqualify you from benefits. Essentially, if the person paying you controls your work, your hours, your salary, your tools or other important aspects of the job, you are likely NOT an independent contractor.
Myth #3: If your employer doesn't carry workers' comp insurance, you're simply out of luck.
Not true! It is a criminal offense for an employer to not carry this type of insurance. If you are injured on the job and your employer doesn't have workers' compensation insurance, your employer must still pay for your medical care. In addition, you can seek benefits from the Uninsured Employers' Benefit Trust Fund (UEBTF).
Myth #4: Undocumented workers or illegal aliens aren't eligible for benefits.
In most cases, this isn't true. Even if you are not a legal resident of the U.S., you will likely qualify for workers' compensation benefits.
Myth #5: If your claim was denied, you can forget about receiving benefits.
This is absolutely untrue. If you claim was denied, you still have the option to file an appeal at the appropriate office of the Division of Worker's Compensation. A lawyer skilled in workers' compensation appeals can represent you and assist you with this.