Although there are some occupations that put workers at higher risk, such as in the transportation or construction industries, workers can suffer injuries in any line of work. Each state has different requirements for employers to provide workers’ compensation to employees when an accident resulting in injury occurs in the workplace.
In California, the law treats any worker as an employee and eligible for workers’ compensation unless the hiring entity can show that the worker is an independent contractor. Although workers’ compensation in the Golden State is a no-fault system that has caps on benefits and restricts an employee’s ability to file claims against the employer, it is comprehensive and will provide compensation for medical care, temporary or permanent disability, and supplemental job displacement or death benefits.
The five most common injuries
Employers are often apprised of what constitutes the bulk of worker’s compensation claims in order to make proactive efforts to mitigate workplace hazards. Although workers’ compensation claims were down in most areas except the healthcare industry in 2020, the predictions for 2021 cite the five most common claims:
- Cuts, punctures and scrapes, workplace injuries that the employer could minimize with an increased emphasis on wearing personal protective equipment
- Strain or musculoskeletal disorders, the costliest of workers’ compensation claims, that could be mitigated with accommodations that change the work environment to better suit workers’ needs
- Slips, trips and falls, which the employer could prevent by cleaning spills and providing smooth but not slippery floors surfaces
- Motor vehicle injuries, which the company can reduce by raising awareness of road safety measures
- Strain or musculoskeletal strain from lifting, which could be minimized with workspace designs that do not require unsafe lifting to for workers to perform required tasks
The challenges of filing claims
If a worker experiences a claim denial, it is often because the claims administer has not recognized the injury as eligible for workers’ compensation. While unfortunate, this is not at all uncommon, as insurance companies would rather delay, deny, or lowball claims in the hope of paying out less than what the injured worker should receive.
Challenging a claims denial is an important next step, but it will involve an independent medical review process, compiling medical evidence, and if successful, finding the necessary steps apply for temporary or permanent disability if necessary. For San Diego residents, it is important to find out more about their rights and how to fight for them if they have experienced a workplace injury.