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Are You Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

California law requires business owners with employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you are injured or become ill on the job, workers’ compensation benefits can cover lost wages or medical bill payments, but only if you meet basic eligibility requirements. For example, there are rules for employees classified under certain categories. To learn more about the requirements for being eligible for workers’ comp, here are some key considerations.

You Must Be Classified as an Employee

Only if you are a bona fide employee can you file a claim. The workers’ comp rules don’t apply to an independent contractor, but it isn’t always that simple. Definitions of employee statuses vary from state to state, and California recently elevated more than one million contractors to “employee” status with the AB 5 law. Whether you are employed part-time or full-time, you are most likely covered by workers’ compensation insurance.

Another way to look at it is, if you get a W2 form to file income taxes, you’re an employee. Independent contractors who receive a 1099 tax form are usually not entitled to workers’ comp benefits. Examples include freelancers, taxi drivers, gardeners, and some agricultural workers as well as drivers for rideshare companies fighting new employment laws in the state.

Your Employer Must Have Worker’s Comp Insurance

Every employer in California must purchase workers’ compensation insurance. This applies even if they hire only one person. Coverage comes from various licensed insurers or the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF), while the federal government has its own system. If an employer is uninsured, they are breaking the law. In this case, you may receive benefits from California’s Uninsured Employer’s Benefit Trust Fund, which attempts to recover compensation from the uninsured employer when you file a claim.

Your Injury or Illness Must Be Work-Related

If you were performing a duty at the request of your boss or benefit of your employer, and it directly led to an injury or illness, you should be covered. Exposure to hazardous materials, back injuries caused by loading or moving boxes, or carpel tunnel syndrome from typing are some examples. If you are injured during a break, engaging in unprofessional activities with co-workers, or while attending a company social event, determining whether an injury is work-related is difficult.

You Must Meet California’s Reporting and Filing Deadlines

Even if you are eligible for benefits, missing reporting or filing deadlines can disqualify you from receiving workers’ compensation in California. These deadlines vary from state to state. In California, you must report a work-related injury within 30 days, and also seek medical treatment. Information on your treatment is entered on Division of Workers’ Compensation Form 1, which you must submit to your employer for delivery to the insurance company. To officially file your claim, you’ll need to complete an Application for Adjudication of Claim form. Various other documents are required as well.

If you missed the deadline to file a California workers’ compensation claim, or an injury occurred outside the office while making a delivery, attending a business meeting, or taking an education course related to work, contact a labor law attorney. There are few reasons to be excused for missing a deadline. Nonetheless, an attorney can apply every aspect of the law to protect your rights. They can also help file an appeal if your employer denies a claim.

Contact Lawyers for Justice

If you have been injured at work, are seeking a workers’ compensation claim, or your employer has said you’re not eligible for benefits, contact Lawyers for Justice, PC. Our Los Angeles workers’ compensation attorney in Glendale will evaluate your claim to help build your case and obtain compensation for your injuries. We serve clients in the Los Angeles area and throughout California. Call 818-647-9323 for a free case evaluation.