Workers’ Compensation Eligibility FAQs

Many injured California and Bay Area employees contact us with questions about whether they are entitled to coverage by their employer’s workers’ compensation plans. While every situation is different, to help give our readers a basic understanding of the various circumstances under which employees are covered, we’ve prepared a few short answers to some commonly asked questions.

Injured Off Site

You don’t have to be on your employer’s premises to be covered by workers’ comp. The test is whether you were engaged in a work-related at the time of the injury.  For example, if you are injured at a conference, while visiting client’s offices, traveling between facilities, traveling on business, running work-related errand, or performing any other work activity, you should covered by workers’ comp.

Note, however, that getting injured your regular commute to and from work does not usually entitle you to workers’ comp coverage in California.

Injury at Work Was Your Fault

The California workers’ compensation system is no-fault, meaning that employees are entitled to receive compensation for injuries regardless of fault.  Thus, if you spilled some water in your office, then accidentally slipped on it and injured your knee, you are still covered by workers’ compensation.

Under certain circumstances fault can be an issue, however. Self-inflicted injuries, such as a gunshot wound, aren’t covered. Employees are also usually prohibited from receiving workers compensation if alcohol or drug use, violation of company policies, or rough horseplay was a factor in their injury.

Are Delayed or Onset Illnesses Covered?

Respiratory diseases, repetitive stress injuries and other illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation, as long as they were caused by the job. Even gradually-appearing illness such as back problems, heart conditions, digestive problems and stress-related conditions might be covered.  The tricky part is proving that your illness is related to the job, and not a pre-existing condition or a condition that you would have contracted anyway.  An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can be particularly helpful in these types of cases.

Does Workers Compensation Cover Temps?

Temporary employees are covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation plan. But inevitably the complex question arises: who is the temporary worker’s employer?  Under California law, temp workers can be considered employees of either the placement agency hiring them out, or of the employer that actually uses their services. This often leads to a dispute between the two potential employers as to whose workers’ compensation plan should apply. Temporary workers who find themselves in a situation where each employer insists that the other is responsible for workers’ comp coverage, should contact an attorney to help settle the matter without delay.

Note that independent contractors and freelancers are not considered an employee, temporary or otherwise, for workers’ compensation purposes.

Injury was small at first then required additional treatment

California law requires employees to report an injury within 30 days of the injury. If you reported your injury within 30 days, you should be entitled to coverage. If you fail to report it within the required time, workers’ comp benefits will be denied.

We strongly recommend reporting all job-related injuries immediately, no matter how minor the injury seems. Medical complications can arise from even small scratches or bruises. In addition, the more time that passes between your injury and reporting it, the more difficult it will be to prove that the injury was work-related.  Avoid losing your right to compensation by reporting your injury right away.

Thanks for reading Slice of Appel PI today regarding worker’s compensation and we hope you continue to read and share our blog with others. For longer answers or additional questions, feel free to contact us.  We are more than happy to discuss your workers’ compensation claim with you.

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