FAQ’s

  1. What is the workers’ compensation system about?
  2. What do I do if I am injured on the job?
  3. Who can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?
  4. May an employer fire me if I file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits?
  5. What do I have to do to start my workers’ compensation claim?
  6. What type of benefits do I get if I am injured on the job?
  7. If I am an undocumented immigrant, do I still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if I am injured on the job even though I was working illegally at the time of my injury?
  8. What if I was being paid in cash, do I still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if I am injured on the job?
  9. What do I do if the insurance company and/or my employer “denied” or “rejected” my claim by saying such things as I am not injured on the job?
  10. What do I do if the insurance company and/or my employer say that I was not an “employee”?
  11. What do I do if I am injured on the job, the insurance company accepts liability, but still it refuses to pay me?
  12. When should I hire a lawyer?
  13. How long will a case last in general from start to finish?
  14. How much will I have to pay and how much will it cost me?
  15. Do I still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if I am at fault in whole or in part for my own injury on the job?
  16. How long do I have to file a claim after I am injured?
  17. What if my company has no workers’ compensation insurance?
  18. Do I have to pay the doctors for the medical treatment?

What is the workers’ compensation system about?

faqs1.1The California workers’ compensation system was created in 1910’s to help workers who are injured on the job by giving them both medical treatment and monetary disability benefits, vocationally retraining them, and then returning them to the workforce so that they can once again be productive members of society. Prior to the existence of such a system, all too often the injured workers who could not do the job well post-injury were fired and left with little or no help. The Legislature believed that this situation was unfair and untenable and thus opted to create a workers’ compensation system which is now embedded into the California Constitution.

What do I do if I am injured on the job?

faqs2The first thing you ought to do when you are injured on the job is to right away REPORT YOUR INJURY!!!!! Tell your boss or supervisor and then ask for or go seek medical care immediately without delay — even if you have to go the emergency!!!!

Why?

We Fong brothers will be happy to tell you. California workers’ compensation laws impose certain obligations and duties on the employer and/or insurance carriers (e.g. duty to give a claim form along with the necessary paperwork to the injured worker, duty to provide and set up medical care, duty to accommodate work restrictions, duty to pay disability benefits, etc.). If the employer or insurance carrier does not know that you were injured, then these duties and obligations are not triggered.

Even worse is that if you don’t report your injury and start your claim, there is something called the “statute of limitations” which will bar you from filing the said claim. Generally, you have one year from date of injury to file your claim. Please note that even if you have passed the one-year deadline, there are certain exceptions to this one-year deadline. So, GIVE US FONG BROTHERS A CALL FOR FREE and we will tell you to see if you qualify even if your injury occurred more than one year ago and even if you believe the time to open a claim has passed.

Who can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?

faqs3You must be an “employee” and be injured on the job to qualify for them. For example, if you are an “independent contractor” or a “volunteer” you will not qualify. But don’t be fooled!!! Sometimes an employer will simply label you an “independent contractor” or a “volunteer” in an attempt to avoid paying workers’ compensation insurance premiums and benefits when in fact you may truly be an “employee”. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t wait! GIVE US FONG BROTHERS A CALL FOR FREE!!!!

May an employer fire me if I file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits?

faqs4No!

The employer may not fire or even threaten to fire you if you file or made your intention known to file a claim for workers’ compensation. Under California Labor Code Sec. 132a, the law makes the employer criminally guilty of a misdemeanor if the employer discharges or threatens to discharge you the injured worker for filing or intending to file such a claim. If the employer discharges you, you have to right to seek reinstatement and work benefits, lost wages, an increase in compensation (not to exceed $10,000), and costs. You may also file a civil claim for wrongful termination!!!!

What do I have to do to start my workers’ compensation claim?

faqs5Whether you have reported your injury timely or late to your company, all workers’ compensation claims start with the filing of a “claim form” (DWC-1 form) with the employer and/or insurance carrier.

PDFDownload DWC-1 Claim Form

Fill in this form as much as you can, submit it to your company and keep a copy for yourself for your records. Having a copy of this form with you will act as proof positive that you filed your claim timely.

What type of benefits do I get if I am injured on the job?

faqs6The following are the types of benefits available:

  1. Temporary disability benefits;
  2. Permanent disability benefits;
  3. Job retraining (supplemental job displacement voucher);
  4. $5,000.00 return-to-work fund;
  5. Medical Treatment;
  6. Penalties & interest.
  7. Death Benefits.
  8. Life Pension.

See our “workers’ compensation benefits” page.

If I am an undocumented immigrant, do I still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if I am injured on the job even though I was working illegally at the time of my injury?

faqs7No worries!!!! Your immigration status is not important!!!

California law gives undocumented workers the right to seek and receive these benefits and will treat your case equally just like all other injured workers. The only exception is that the court cannot order the employer to rehire you if you are an undocumented immigrant when you have been fired.

What if I was being paid in cash, do I still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if I am injured on the job?

faqs8Yes!!! Whether you are paid in cash, by checks, or by other forms of pay (e.g. exchanging free rent for your labor) you still qualify.

What do I do if the insurance company and/or my employer “denied” or “rejected” my claim by saying such things as I am not injured on the job?

faqs9Then it is all the more reason to retain an attorney for help, or at the very least GIVE US FONG BROTHERS A CALL FOR FREE!!! When the insurance carrier denies or rejects your claim, there is no point in asking the insurance company for help because it will not help you once your claim is rejected/denied. It is time to seek help.

What do I do if the insurance company and/or my employer say that I was not an “employee”?

faqs10You must be an “employee” and be injured on the job to qualify for them. For example, if you are an “independent contractor” or a “volunteer” you will not qualify. But don’t be fooled!!! Sometimes an employer will simply label you an “independent contractor” or a “volunteer” in an attempt to avoid paying workers’ compensation insurance premiums and benefits when in fact you may truly be an “employee”. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t wait!!!! GIVE US FONG BROTHERS A CALL FOR FREE!!!!

What do I do if I am injured on the job, the insurance company accepts liability, but still it refuses to pay me?

faqs11Then it is time to seek legal help and dont wait!!!

In general, if the carrier accepts liability but still refuses to pay, then it is typically because it is relying on one of its own insurance doctors’ opinion which likely states that you have little or no disability. For example, the insurance company may have sent you to one of its own network doctors who opined that despite your injury (e.g. back injury), you can return to work without any restrictions or problems. Based on this opinion, the carrier will not pay.

However, you can do something about this situation by obtaining a “panel qualified medical examination” (or PQME) from the Medical Unit to try to rebut the insurance company’s network doctor’s opinion. Another option is to find another qualified doctor to rebut the insurance company’s doctor’s opinion. We can explain how to you. GIVE US FONG BROTHERS A CALL FOR FREE!!!!

When should I hire a lawyer?

faqs12There is no litmus test as to when to retain or not retain an attorney. But in general, studies have shown that having a lawyer yields a higher recovery than not having one. However, you must decide if it is worth doing so.

Our recommendation is that if the insurance carrier has accepted liability, is paying you, and you are happy, then there is no need to obtain an attorney. But most cases are not ideal and at the very least call an attorney for a free consultation. GIVE US FONG BROTHERS A CALL FOR FREE!!!!

How long will a case last in general from start to finish?

faqs13In general, a case lasts approximately two (2) years from start to finish. Please be aware that this is just a general rule of thumb and not all cases will last so long or short. I have had cases which lasted several months while others lasted for many years. The complexity of your case will determine the length. For example, if you have injured one body part on one day (e.g. lifted a heavy box and suffered a hernia), then it will be shorter than another person who worked multiple jobs and hurt many parts of the body.

How much will I have to pay and how much will it cost me?

faqs14For the lawyer, the maximum charge is 15% (fifteen percent) of what you recover. You don’t pay until you win. If we don’t win, you pay nothing.

You also do NOT have to pay the doctors for medical treatment because the law requires the employer or insurance carrier to pay “all reasonable medical care cost to cure or relieve the effects of an industrial injury” per California Labor Code Sec. 4600.

Do I still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if I am at fault in whole or in part for my own injury on the job?

faqs1Yes!!! The workers compensation system is based on a no-fault premise which means that if you are at fault, you can still recover. For example, if your boss told you that your job was to be a janitor doing clean-up only but you decide to change the company’s vehicle tire and hurt yourself changing the tire, you can still qualify (because it is a no-fault system).

How long do I have to file a claim after I am injured?

faqs16In general, you have one year from the date of injury or one year from the last provision of benefits to submit a claim. See California Labor Code Sec. 5405 et. seq. But do not worry about the one-year deadline because it is riddled with numerous exceptions. GIVE US FONG BROTHERS A CALL FOR FREE AND WE SHALL EXPLAIN IT TO YOU!!!!

What if my company has no workers’ compensation insurance?

faqs17No problem!!!! The law requires that all employers (except for permissibly self-insured employers) must buy and carry workers’ compensation insurance. Unfortunately, some employers have chosen not to do so. If you file a claim against an uninsured employer you will likely have to proceed against the “Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund” (or UEBTF) which is a state agency in charge of acting like an insurance company covering your claim. In order to proceed against the UEBTF to cover your claim, you must properly name and serve the employer with the correct process (i.e., “special notice of law suit”) and then petition the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board for an order to join the UEBTF. Sounds complicated? It can be complicated. So, GIVE US FONG BROTHERS A CALL FOR FREE AND WE SHALL EXPLAIN IT TO YOU!!!!

Do I have to pay the doctors for the medical treatment?

faqs18No!!!! California Labor Code Sec. 4600 et. seq. states that if a worker is injured on the job medical treatment “shall be provided by the employer.” Even if your need for medical treatment was partly triggered by a work injury and partly not triggered by the work injury, the employer must provide medical care.

See this website’s “medical treatment” page for further explanations by clicking here.

Law Offices of Fred L. Fong, APC

460 East Carson Plaza Dr.,
Suite 122
Carson, CA, 90746
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Office (424) 329-0971
Fax (424) 329-0977

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