work injuries

Most accidents that happen while you are at work are covered by California’s workers’ compensation system. But there are times when you can file both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim if your injury was caused by the failure of a piece of machinery or you were injured by a worker from a different company or contractor. This is why it is important to contact a Bakersfield personal injury lawyer like The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP to find out if you may be able to file both claims.

We at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP, are committed to more than just getting you the compensation you need. Our attorneys will stand by your side, listen to your story, and make sure you never feel alone in this process. Contact our firm today at 661.327.9661 for a free consultation and learn how we can help you.

Common Types of Workplace Injuries in Bakersfield

California is home to diverse industries, from agriculture and construction to technology and entertainment. As a result, the types of workplace injuries that occur in the state are similarly diverse. However, certain types of occupational injuries are particularly common, including the following:

  • Repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome from office or computer work.
  • Injuries from falls, slips, or trips on the same level or falls from heights.
  • Struck-by and entanglement injuries, often seen in manufacturing and construction.
  • Motor vehicle accidents injuries, common among those in transportation and warehousing.
  • Overexertion injuries, such as might occur from lifting heavy objects or excessive physical strain.
  • Occupational illnesses, such as respiratory diseases or hearing loss from harmful exposure.

What Does California Workers’ Compensation Cover?

Workers’ compensation in California is a no-fault insurance system that aims to provide benefits to eligible workers who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. These are some of the more common questions about workers’ comp.

Which Employers Are Required to Provide Workers’ Compensation Coverage in California?

The California Labor Code (CLC) stipulates that all employers operating in the state, regardless of their size or the nature of their business, must provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. This includes public and private sector employers. Most employers secure this coverage by purchasing insurance policies, though some larger businesses can register as self-insured, assuming the financial risks themselves.

Which Types of Workers Are Covered?

Only employees recognized as being “legal” are eligible for workers’ compensation in California, but state law defines “employees” broadly. As a result, the scope of workers’ compensation coverage in California is extensive, granting protections to most categories of workers. This includes full-time, part-time, temporary, and even seasonal workers. The law also extends to undocumented workers.

Which Types of Workers Are Not Covered?

Despite the inclusive nature of workers’ compensation coverage, specific categories of workers are not entitled to benefits. Most notable are independent contractors, but distinguishing employees from independent contractors can be challenging, particularly in light of recent changes to California’s employee classification laws.

Which Types of Work Injuries Are Covered?

In California, workers’ compensation coverage extends to various injuries and illnesses that could be causally linked to employment or work-related activities. This encompasses sudden, acute incidents like those from occupational falls and other injury accidents and injuries or conditions that develop over time due to repetitive, work-related stress. Diseases arising from prolonged exposure to harmful substances in the workplace are also covered.

Which Types of Work Injuries Are Not Covered?

Specific injuries fall outside the scope of workers’ compensation coverage. Injuries that occur outside the direct execution of job-related duties are generally not covered. This typically includes injuries that arise during unpaid commutes or breaks, non-work-related recreational activities, or voluntary participation in off-duty events. Nevertheless, exceptions exist, and the exact circumstances surrounding an injury can significantly affect whether it falls under workers’ compensation coverage or not.

The best way to determine whether you qualify for workers’ comp benefits in California is to consult a knowledgeable Bakersfield work injury attorney. Your lawyer can evaluate the specifics of your situation, collect compelling evidence to support your claim, and push for the benefits you need.

What’s the Difference Between a Workers’ Compensation Claim and a Third-Party Claim?

Workers’ compensation claims and third-party injury claims are two distinct legal avenues available to employees who get hurt or sick on the job. They differ in several fundamental ways, including the following:

Eligibility Requirements

The key eligibility requirements for workers’ compensation claims involve employment status and whether the injury or illness is work-related.

Third-party injury claims arise when a party outside the employer-employee relationship is responsible for the injury or illness. To be eligible for this type of claim, you must demonstrate that the third party’s wrongful behavior contributed to your injury or illness.

Types of Compensation Available

Workers’ comp benefits can include:

  • Money for medical expenses
  • A portion of lost wages
  • Permanent disability payments
  • Temporary disability payments
  • Vocational rehabilitation assistance

Workers’ comp does not typically provide compensation for intangible losses like pain and suffering.

Third-party injury claims can include compensation for any losses you suffer due to your injury or illness. This could include medical expenses, the total value of your lost wages, losses in future earning capacity, and personal losses like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and lost quality of life.

Liable Parties and Liability

The workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system, meaning employees do not need to prove that their employers or other parties were negligent to receive benefits. Employees can even claim benefits if they were at fault for their injuries, so long as they do not result from intoxication, horseplay, or other unauthorized on-the-job behavior.

In contrast, a third-party claim requires proving that another party was at fault for your injury. To recover compensation from this type of claim, you must present evidence demonstrating that the third party engaged in wrongful behavior that contributed to your injury.

Can I File a Third-Party Claim While Receiving Workers’ Compensation?

Yes, you can file a third-party claim while receiving workers’ compensation. If you get hurt on the job due to a third party’s wrongful behavior, you could be able to file a third-party claim against that individual or entity in addition to claiming workers’ compensation benefits.

However, your employer’s insurance company could have a right to recover some of its expenses from your third-party settlement through a process known as subrogation, so it’s a good idea to work with an attorney if you know or suspect you have both types of claims.

How to Prove a Third Party Was Negligent

In most third-party work injury claims, you must prove that the third party was negligent and that their negligence caused your injury. The evidence you can use to establish negligence can take several forms, including:

  • Photographs or video footage from the accident scene.
  • Eyewitness statements.
  • Accident or police reports.
  • Medical records documenting the injury.
  • Expert testimony, such as an accident reconstruction specialist.
  • Company records, if the third party is a company.
  • Employment records, if the third party was working at the time.
  • Physical evidence, such as damaged tools or equipment.

Common Third-Party Work Injury Cases

A third-party work injury case arises when an entity other than an employer is responsible for a worker’s injury. These cases can vary widely based on the nature of the work and the specific circumstances of the injury, but several types commonly occur, such as the following:

  • On-the-job transportation accidents for which another driver is at fault.
  • Accidents involving defective products or machinery from negligent manufacturers.
  • Accidents on unsafe properties not owned by the employer.
  • Injuries caused by subcontractors or other non-employees on job sites.
  • Injuries resulting from the actions of clients, customers, or patients.

Can I Sue My Employer for a Work Injury?

It depends. Workers’ compensation is meant to be an “exclusive remedy,” meaning that in most situations, you cannot sue your employer for a work injury. The workers’ comp system is designed to protect both employees and employers; employees can get benefits without proving fault, and, in return, employers are largely protected from lawsuits.

However, exceptions exist, such as if an employer intentionally causes harm or does not have the required workers’ compensation insurance. It’s essential to consult a work injury lawyer in Bakersfield for guidance if you think you might have a case against your employer.

Benefits of Hiring a Bakersfield Lawyer at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP After a Work Injury

Work injuries are often physically painful, financially debilitating, and emotionally overwhelming. Instead of worrying about paperwork and dealing with disputes with your employer or insurance company, you should focus solely on your recovery. You don’t have to face this challenging journey alone. Seek the help of the legal experts at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP to pursue the benefits you are entitled to.

Our seasoned team of personal injury lawyers is ready to step in and stand up on your behalf, armed with a wealth of experience handling cases like yours. There are several reasons why hiring a lawyer from The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP can make all the difference in your work injury case.

First, we’re local. We know Bakersfield’s community, laws, and court procedures.

Second, our commitment to you is unwavering. Your case won’t be just another file in a drawer. You’re our priority from the moment you seek help from us.

Finally, with The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP you’ll receive the compassionate, personalized attention you deserve. You can expect consistent availability from your attorney and a team of talented legal professionals, all striving to maximize your work injury benefits, whether by negotiating aggressively with insurance providers or taking your case to trial.

Don’t let a work injury overwhelm you. Let our attorneys at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP shoulder the burden of your claim while you focus on healing.