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Is Workers’ Compensation Mandatory in California? 2024

While there are federal laws mandating most employers to carry some form of workers’ compensation insurance, it is generally left up to each state to decide how it is implemented. In some states, whether or not workers’ compensation is mandatory depends on the number of employees a company has. If you were injured in your California workplace, you might be wondering, is workers’ compensation mandatory in California?

Understanding Workers’ Compensation in California

California is one of the few states that requires all of its employers to provide workers’ compensation, even if they only have one employee. This is to ensure that whenever accidents occur, individuals can receive support in order to heal. This system is meant to benefit the employer and the employee by preventing personal claims against employers while still allowing employees to seek compensation.

You have 30 days to inform your employer of your injury as an employee. An employer must give their employee a claim form as soon as they are aware of the employee’s injury, after which the employee has one year to file a workers’ comp claim. They must also allow the employee to get medical treatment that costs up to $10,000 while the claim is pending. If the employer does not reject the claim within 90 days, it is presumed that the injury will be covered.

What Should You Do When You’re Injured While Working in California?

While every accident comes with a range of chaotic factors, it’s important to take the following steps when you’re injured at work:

  • When you become aware of a workplace injury or believe an injury or illness was caused by something that occurred at your job, you need to report it to your employer. If you report the injury immediately, you are less likely to have issues receiving benefits later. If the injury is not reported by the end of the 30-day limitation, you may lose your right to benefits completely.
  • It is imperative that if your injury or illness is an emergency, you go directly to the emergency room. Inform the doctors and nurses who assist you that your illness or injury is a result of a workplace incident, and then get in touch with your boss to go forward.
  • Fill out a claim form, DWC-1. Once you fill out the “employee” section and sign it, send it directly to your employer. Make sure to keep a copy of the form for your own records. If the form is not sent to your employer, you risk losing benefits.

Possible Workers’ Compensation Benefits for California Employees

There are six potential workers’ comp benefits you can receive if you were injured on the job in California:

  • Medical Care Coverage – Covers any medical-related expenses related to the injury or illness.
  • Temporary Disability Pay – Compensation for employees who are temporarily out of work due to injury or illness.
  • Permanent Disability Pay – Compensation for employees who may be permanently unable to do their job due to injury or illness.
  • Death Benefits – Benefits for dependents who lost their loved one as a result of a workplace injury or illness.
  • Supplemental Job Displacement – If your disability keeps you from going back to work, you can be given compensation to assist with job retraining.
  • Mileage for Treatment – Covers necessary travel to and from visits for doctor visits and medical treatment.

Temporary Disability, Permanent Disability, and Death Benefits

It’s crucial to understand the different benefits that are given for workplace injuries, disabilities, and wrongful deaths:

Temporary Disability: When you have a temporary disability, you can receive workers’ compensation that is equal to two-thirds of your weekly gross pay as long as it is between $364.30 and $2,428.72. These payments may last up to two years.

Permanent Disability: Based on your permanent disability rating, you can receive workers’ comp ranging from $160 to $290 weekly for a set amount of weeks. In certain circumstances where it is no longer possible for you to do your job, you may be able to receive supplemental job displacement benefits reaching up to $6,000.

Death Benefits: A workplace injury or illness that results in the death of an employee could result in death benefits for that employee’s dependents. These benefits might include $10,000 to help with a burial and between $250,000 and $320,000 for the dependents, depending on circumstances.

FAQs About Workers’ Compensation Mandatory

What Happens If I Don’t Have Workers’ Comp Insurance in California?

All employers are required to offer workers’ comp insurance in California. If you aren’t provided with insurance, your employer can be punished by the law. It is a requirement that all California employers with more than one employee offer some form of workers’ compensation, or they will be held liable in court.

Can an Employee Opt Out of Workers’ Compensation in California?

Only in special cases can an employee opt out of workers’ compensation benefits in California, and in those cases, the employee must sign a waiver. It is mandatory for employers to provide all of their employees with workers’ comp insurance to make sure they are covered in case of illness or injury. It is rare that an employee will waive their rights to benefits that aid in their recovery.

When Did Workers’ Compensation Become Mandatory in California?

While it comes as a shock to many, workers’ compensation is one of the oldest insurance programs in the country. California, along with many other states, adopted workers’ compensation guidelines around 1910 to ensure employees stayed protected. While laws have changed since then, they have only become more strict and beneficial to employees.

Can I Use My Own Insurance Instead of Workers’ Comp in California?

While you can use your own insurance, it may not be the most favorable option in place of workers’ comp. Personal health insurance doesn’t always cover an injury or illness that is work-related the way workers’ compensation does. In fact, many personal insurance companies do not cover work-related injuries at all because they know you can receive workers’ compensation.

Canlas Law Group: Your California Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Any employee who has experienced an injury or illness as a result of their workplace should receive fair compensation. At Canlas Law Group, we work hard to make sure our clients get the settlements they deserve. Reach out to us today to get started with your claim and receive compensation for your pain.

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