Know your rights when you suffer a personal injury in California.
A serious injury has widespread effects on your life, impacting your ability to support your family and enjoy your day-to-day activities. When personal injury occurs through no fault of your own, California law gives you the right to seek compensation from the responsible party, both for your medical bills and the related pain of the injury.
Personal injury in California can be divided into two basic categories: On-the-job and non-work related injuries.
Work injuries are covered by workers’ compensation insurance paid by your employer. If your employer maintains that coverage and provides care for your injury, you generally cannot sue over the incident.
Non-work injuries caused by the negligence of another person, such as in an automobile accident or a slip-and-fall are covered by California Civil Code§ 1714. You can sue to prove negligence and recover damages.
Let’s start with an injury that occurs on the job. The first and most important step is to report the injury, or illness, as soon as you realize what has happened, and seek medical treatment. You cannot receive any coverage if you don’t do those things first.
Within one day of learning of your injury, your employer must give or mail you the state’s Division of Workers’ Compensation Form 1. This is the form where you describe the injury or illness and begin your claim for benefits.
Through workers’ comp, you will receive medical treatment for the injury and temporary disability pay if the injury leaves you unable to work. Treatment generally can continue as long as necessary, however, the law limits chiropractic visits, physical therapy visits, and occupational therapy visits to 24 each.
The injury may leave you permanently disabled, in which case the state will determine the extent and percent of your disability. You will be entitled to permanent disability pay and possibly payment for future medical expenses. You also may receive vocational training if you can no longer perform the same job.
While it isn’t necessary to have a personal injury attorney, it is always a good idea to consult one in situations like this. An attorney can help you navigate the complex bureaucracy and can advise you on dealing with any disagreements you may have with your claims administrator.