Protecting injured workers in California

California law requires all employers with one employee or more to carry workers’ compensation insurance to take care of injured workers or the families of those workers killed on the job. Even out-of-state employers with an employee based in California are not exempt. And roofing companies without exception – even those that employ only the owner – are required to carry it. That’s how seriously the state of California takes the issue of worker safety.

Workers’ compensation insurance in California

The workers’ compensation insurance California employers offer to its employees must include these five benefits:

§ Death benefits for to the deceased worker’s spouse and dependents to compensate for lost wages and other benefits

§ Temporary disability benefits to help make ends meet while a worker recovers

§ Permanent disability benefits to provide financial security if the worker never recovers

§ Payments for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred for medical care resulting from an on-the-job injury or illness

§ An educational or professional development benefit to allow workers to get retrained if they must find a different job because their injuries do not allow them to return to the same line of work

 

Employee or independent contractor?

To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits a worker must be classified as an employee. Independent contractors, for example, do not qualify. Or do they? While there is no concrete definition of an independent contractor, the designation is usually applied to workers who have a level of control over how, where and when they work. The following questions can help establish whether a worker meets the definition of an independent contractor:

· Is the worker paid hourly or is he or she salaried?

· Did the employer supply the worker with the necessary tools and materials to do his or her job?

· Does the employer control how the work is done?

· Does the worker set his or her own hours?

If you were injured on the job and believe that you have been misclassified as an independent contractor and therefore ineligible for workers’ compensation, it will be money well spent to have an attorney review your case and help determine your legal employment status.

 

Still wondering what your options are?

California’s Information and Assistance Unit offers free advice to injured workers. The unit puts on seminars for workers to help them understand their rights and the steps they must take to obtain their workers’ compensation benefits. A worker can also meet privately with an officer from the unit. The officer, however, can only provide advice to the worker and cannot advocate on the worker’s behalf.

If you believe you have a workers’ compensation claim and need more guidance than the Information and Assistance Unit can offer, a personal injury attorney specializing in workers’ compensation can evaluate your situation and be your advocate.