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Alternative to Workers’ Comp for Injured Workers’ in California

  • Published: May 5, 2023

When an employee sustains a workplace-related injury, many hurdles can interfere with their recovery and ability to return to work. California’s workers’ compensation system is implemented to help some workers by ensuring their medical benefits and a portion of their lost wages are paid. Every organization in California must offer workers’ comp benefits to protect workers at risk of injuries on the job.

While workers’ compensation can benefit California employees greatly, there are certain situations where these benefits just aren’t enough to help injured individuals get back on their feet. This is where alternative forms of compensation can come in. If you’re injured on the job, are receiving workers’ comp benefits, and it’s not enough to help you in your recovery, you can consult with an experienced workplace injury attorney to see your other options for compensation.

When Can You Seek Alternatives to Workers’ Comp to Recover a Larger Award? 

Typically, when a worker sustains a workplace injury, they may file a workers’ compensation claim. Since workers’ comp benefits are the worker’s “exclusive remedy,” they can’t sue their employer for causing emotional distress or pain and suffering. Workers’ comp also only reimburses workers for a portion of their lost earnings.

However, in many situations, injured employees do have other options, which include when:

  • Another company or individual is responsible for the employee’s injury
  • An employer’s “willful and serious misconduct” led to the employee’s injury
  • The employer is breaking the law by not providing workers’ comp benefits
  • The employee isn’t an employee but rather an independent contractor

Other situations can also impact whether workers’ compensation applies. California employees who have sustained workplace injuries should consult with a qualified workplace injury attorney for more information.

What if Another Company or Individual Caused Your Injuries? 

Claims for workers’ comp apply only to an employee’s employer or co-workers. However, in the workplace today, workers frequently work right next to other workers in the company. If another person other than the employee’s employer is the cause of their injury, the employee can sue that company or third party with a civil claim for their personal injuries.

Cases like these frequently involve motor vehicle accidents that occur while a worker is driving as part of their job. Often, construction sites also involve errors by employees that seriously injure other employees of the company. Accidents in leased buildings might also lead to third-party claims against property management companies or landlords. In other cases, workplace-related injuries can be due to defective products, which creates a product liability claim against the manufacturer.

Can You Use Your Health Insurance to Cover Workplace Injury Costs? 

You shouldn’t use personal health insurance to cover expenses related to your injuries that are supposed to be covered under workers’ comp insurance.

Unfortunately, not all companies will have your best interests in mind when you sustain an injury on the job. When you’re working and making them money, they’ll be your best friend, but as soon as you’re injured and require help, they begin to show what they’re really made of. It’s not uncommon for employers to ask injured workers to use their health insurance to get treatment. Even so, it doesn’t mean it’s the proper thing to do.

It all boils down to money, which is why many companies do this. Most companies have the legal responsibility to offer their employees workers’ comp benefits, and they’re responsible for paying for it. Each time one of their workers files a claim for workers’ compensation, it negatively affects the premiums the employer will have to pay the following year for their insurance. The premiums employers pay are also based on how far the workers’ comp claims go; therefore, a lot of times, they’ll attempt to cut a worker off workers’ compensation as soon as possible and encourage them to pay the remainder of their expenses with their health insurance.

What About Personal Injury Insurance? 

The fact is, if you’ve been injured on the job and require treatment, only workers’ comp insurance should be used. 

If you’re still injured from an injury you sustained on the job and use your personal injury insurance, you’ll have to lie to the physician and tell them it’s not a work-related injury. If you do this, you only hurt your potential to file a third-party injury claim.

What Options Do You Have if Your Employer Doesn’t Provide Workers’ Comp Insurance? 

While California does require all employers to provide workers’ comp benefits, sometimes employers break this law.

If an employer doesn’t offer workers’ compensation, a statewide fund frequently assists with the worker’s medical expenses. A skilled workplace injury lawyer can help you apply for these benefits. However, since the uninsured employer didn’t do their part to help you get back on your feet, you can also file a civil claim. The employer continues to be liable for paying all the costs associated with your workplace injury or condition.

What if You’re an Independent Contractor and Not an Employee? 

Employees of a company are only entitled to workers’ compensation insurance. Independent contractors can’t rely on workers’ comp benefits, but they still may file personal injury claims.

Agencies and courts will look at various things to establish that a worker is an employee vs. an independent contractor, including:

  • The company offers building materials and equipment
  • The company controls the worker’s job details
  • The company can fire the worker at will
  • The company can determine what hours and days the worker needs to work

These are just a few things that can help differentiate between an employee and an independent contractor. 

Reach Out to a Reliable Workplace Injury Lawyer at KCNS Law Group in California to Schedule a Free Consultation

Many things can impact your recovery and ability to return to work after you sustain a workplace injury. If you were injured on the job and are wondering how you can pursue compensation, reach out to KCNS Law Group to speak with an experienced California workplace injury lawyer. 

Call us today at (818) 937-9255 or complete our contact form on our website to schedule your free consultation and case evaluation.

KCNS Law Group LLP

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