You probably hear a lot of talk about workers’ compensation, especially if you are in a high-risk occupation. It’s comforting to know that the program exists and that you will be protected if you are hurt. However, many are not aware of exactly which programs exist or how they work.
In this article, we will discuss various forms of workers’ compensation. This piece is not an exhaustive study of each program. Instead, it is intended to provide a beginner’s look at programs and what you can receive from them. For detailed information, we encourage you to visit the California Department of Industrial Relations.
Standard Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Generally, you can expect to receive 2/3 of your gross income (you total before taxes and other deductions) when you receive workers’ comp. There are always exceptions and rules that can alter this amount, but that is the standard benefit.
Additionally, there are minimums and maximums on how much you can receive. These amounts are altered annually, and they can be difficult to track. In 2018, a worker could receive no more than $1,215.17 per week and no less than $182.29 per week.
The Compensation Formula
California’s workers’ compensation formula is so complicated, it’s almost impenetrable. There are many online resources you can use the estimate your benefits. Generally, they offer a good baseline to help you understand your compensation, but they are still incomplete. For example, they may not be able to account for the type of injury or extent of your damage. The benefits you receive are often buried under layers of detail, all of which can enhance or invalidate one another.
For a true estimate of what to expect, we suggest you speak with an attorney. A lawyer familiar with these benefits stays abreast of changes and requirements, and they can help you better understand what you might receive.
Disabilities With Pay
Receiving only 2/3 of your normal pay can be a blow to your finances, especially if you are in recovery. Some employers offer a “disabilities with pay” program designed to cover the rest of your paycheck as you heal. This program is not required by the state, so make sure to contact your employer to see if they carry this benefit.
Other Types of Compensation
Standard workers’ comp, though varied, works in a pretty straightforward manner. You will receive a weekly check for as long as you are entitled. Luckily, there are several other options beyond standard compensation you can use.
The following list does not represent every type of compensation available. There are many programs that can benefit you. Some programs are offered through your employer, and others are offered through the state. Ask your employer for a complete list of compensation benefits, and check with government program websites to see which you can use.
Other programs include:
- Death Benefits
If someone is fatally wounded on the job, their dependents can receive benefits. Like workers’ comp, these benefits are adjusted according to many factors. The income of the dependent is considered, as is their level of dependency. Some people may be “total” dependents, and others may be “partial” dependents.
- Mileage Rates
If you use your car for work, you may be entitled to pay based on your mileage. As of January 1, 2021, workers can receive $0.56 for each mile they use while working.
- Whole Person Impairment
If you lose the use of part of your body in a work-related injury, you may be able to apply for this benefit.
- State-Wide Average Weekly Wages (SAWW)
This program also benefits those disabled at work. It applies to everyone, regardless of whether the disability was permanent or temporary.
- Return-to-Work Supplement Program (RTWSP)
This is another program designed for work-related disabilities. It is meant to specifically help those whose disabilities led to a high loss of income.
Should You Talk to an Attorney?
Whenever you apply for benefits, you should include a lawyer in the process. Sometimes the simplest guidance can help ensure a smooth collection of compensation. Lawyers can look over your workers’ compensation application, making sure it is filled out correctly. The smallest mistake can lead to a denial, and insurance companies will use such mistakes to their advantage.
Sometimes companies deny you because they don’t believe your injury is severe enough to warrant compensation. Attorneys can help you explain your injury, using the right wording to prove your need. If you are denied, you must go through an appeal process that is very similar to a courtroom trial. Your lawyer can help you build your argument, question witnesses, enter evidence, and employ other trial methods to help you win the appeal.
For help with workers’ benefits, call Ufkes & Bright today. We can give you a free consultation and help you plan your next move. Our number is (714) 500-8661. You can also reach us online.