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Workers’ Compensation

Fresno Workers Compensation Lawyer

Workplace accidents can be a devastating, life-altering experience. Workplace injuries can happen to people in law enforcement and in construction and industrial occupations, among other industries. When a worker suffers from repetitive strain injuries or cumulative trauma such as carpal tunnel syndrome or back injuries from lifting, he or she may be entitled to benefits from his or her employer's workers' compensation insurance company, such as lost wages and coverage of medical expenses. The Fresno workers’ compensation lawyers at Berry, Smith & Bartell have over 60 years of combined experience helping injured workers recover the compensation they deserve.

If you have been injured at work, schedule a free, no obligation consultation with our attorneys to review your situation and learn about your legal options. We can guide you through the entire claims process to help obtain the benefits you may be eligible to receive. All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. This means there are no costs up front. We only get paid if you recover favorable compensation for your claim.

Call us now at 1-800-848-6288 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form.

Types of Workplace Accidents

There are many types of workplace accidents that cause workers to suffer injuries that are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These can include:

  • Falling object accidents – Objects that fall or are dropped from high heights can hit workers on lower levels or on the ground. These accidents can cause serious head trauma.
  • Slip and fall accidents – These accidents are caused by wet or slippery floors, uneven surfaces or tripping over loose flooring. Workers can also slip and fall from a ladder, roof, or floor due to defective or broken equipment. Construction sites have a number of safety hazards due to the type of work and equipment involved.
  • Fires and explosions – Faulty gas lines, poor pipefitting, improperly stored flammable materials or open flames can cause unexpected fires and explosions in the workplace. Workers can suffer significant burns, respiratory issues and possible disfigurement. Industrial workplaces such as factories and chemical plants have a higher rate of electrical and chemical injuries than others.  
  • Vehicle-related accidents – These accidents can happen when workers are driving for business-related purposes and get injured in an accident with another vehicle. Workers also can be hit or run over by passing vehicles or other construction vehicles while repairing roads or working in traffic zones.
  • Machinery accidents – When heavy equipment and machinery are used, workers can get caught in or struck by moving parts or objects from machines. These accidents can cause loss of limbs.
  • Workplace violence – Workers can be hit or attacked by a fellow co-worker. Law enforcement officers responding to a 9-1-1-call can also be seriously injured when trying to apprehend a suspect.

There are also some injuries caused by overexertion or repetitive activities that happen over a period of time in the workplace. These are known as occupational diseases that can put a strain on the body, causing damage that accumulates until a worker has a severe injury.

Overexertion injuries are related to pulling, lifting, pushing, carrying, and throwing things at work. These types of injuries are common in physically-demanding work. Occupational diseases can also be caused by factors present in the workplace, such as exposure to toxic chemicals over time.

For example, workers may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if he or she develops:

  • Lung cancer, asbestosis, or mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos
  • Hearing loss caused by loud working environments
  • Back problems from constantly lifting heavy equipment
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive wrist motions while performing tasks
  • Skin diseases or disorders from working with hazardous substances

If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, you need someone on your side who understands your rights and legal options to obtain the benefits you need and deserve. 

Our workers’ compensation attorneys in Fresno will conduct a thorough investigation to determine all the damages you suffered as a result of your injury. We understand how valuable compensation can be as you focus on your recovery.

Complete a Free Case Evaluation form today.

Types of Workers' Compensation Benefits Available

If your workers’ compensation claim is approved, you could be entitled to recover compensation for medical expenses and partial lost wages related to your workplace injury or illness.  

Medical Care

You may receive medical care that is reasonably required to cure or relieve your injury through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. This includes doctor visits, hospital services, medicines, medical equipment, lab tests, other treatment services and travel costs necessary to treat your injury. Workers are reimbursed for traveling to medical treatments at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mileage rate of 54 cents per mile.

Medical care must follow medical treatment guidelines from the medical treatment utilization schedule (MTUS) issued by the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). These guidelines help doctors give appropriate treatment and help advise you on how to remain active while recovering, including changes to your work environment such as taking a different work assignment or reducing your work hours to help aid in your recovery.

After you file a workers' compensation claim, your employer in Fresno or workers’ compensation insurance company has one day to authorize up to $10,000 for necessary treatment while the claims administrator is investigating your claim and deciding whether to approve or deny it. 

Temporary Disability Benefits

You may be eligible to receive temporary disability (TD) benefits if your injury prevents you from working in the same capacity as before you were injured. You could receive payments for lost wages if your doctor says that you are unable to do your usual job for more than three days, you have to stay overnight in a hospital, or your employer does not offer other work that pays your usual wages while you are recovering. There are two different types of TD benefits:

  • Temporary total disability (TTD) payments – These are paid out if you are unable to work at all while you recover
  • Temporary partial disability (TPD) payments – These benefits are for employees who can do some work while they are recovering

Generally, benefits are two-thirds of the pre-tax wages you earned per week before your injury. For example, if you were making $400 per week before your injury, you could be eligible for $266 per week in TTD while you are unable to work at all. There are also no federal, state, or local income taxes to pay on TD benefits.

If you can do some work while you recover, you will receive two-thirds of your lost wages. For example, if you were making $400 per week and now earning just $200, you will receive two-thirds of the lost $200, or $133 per week.

You can receive TD benefits for a maximum of 104 weeks within a five-year period from the date of injury.

When Do TD Payments Begin and End?

Once your workers’ compensation claim is approved, TD benefits must begin within 14 days after your employer learns of your injury and your doctor states that your injury prevents you from doing your usual job. After your first payment, TD benefits must be paid every two weeks until you are no longer eligible. TD benefits end when your doctor says that you can return to work, you return to work at your regular wages, your injury will not improve any more than it has, or you have reached the limit on the number of weeks you can receive benefits.

The claims administrator must send you a letter within 14 days after your final payment explaining why the benefits are ending with a list of all payments sent.

Permanent Disability Benefits

You may be eligible to receive permanent disability (PD) benefits if you doctor says that you will never recover completely from your injury or always be limited in the work you can do. There are two different types of PD benefits – permanent total disability and permanent partial disability.

When your condition becomes permanent and stationary (P&S), meaning your injury is not improving and not getting worse, your doctor must write a P&S report to the claims administrator describing your specific medical conditions, work restrictions, future medical expenses, ability to return to your old job, and an estimate of how much your disability is caused by your job and other factors.

How Are PD Payments Issued?

The amount paid out is based on a permanent disability rating which varies based on your medical condition, date of injury, age when injured, your occupation and your doctor’s restrictions. For injured workers, a rating of 100 percent means you have a permanent total disability. 

Once your doctor says you have a permanent disability from your injury, PD benefits must begin within 14 days of when your temporary disability benefits end. 

A Fresno workers’ compensation lawyer can help to ensure you receive the temporary or permanent disability benefits you are entitled to under California law.

Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits

If you suffer from a permanent partial disability after a work-related injury, you may be eligible to receive supplemental job displacement benefits (SJDB). Benefits are available to workers unable to return to their previous job and whose employers do not offer alternative or modified employment.

These benefits come in the form of a voucher that can be used to pay for educational retraining or skill enhancement, or both, at eligible schools. You can use the voucher to pay for tuition, fees, books, tools and other expenses related to retraining or skill enhancement.

The voucher can also help pay for licensing or professional certification fees and examination preparation course fees. This includes:

  • Up to $600 to pay for services from a licensed placement agency, a vocational or return-to-work counselor
  • Up to $1,000 to purchase computer equipment needed for exams and certifications

Regardless of your permanent disability rating, the voucher is redeemable for up to $6,000. The claims administrator must send the voucher on a non-transferable voucher form within 20 days after the end of the period when your employer may offer you regular, modified or alternative employment.

You must use the voucher within two years after the date the voucher was issued to you, or within five years after the date of your injury. All expenses, including any receipts and additional documentation, need to be submitted to the claims administrator before the deadline. 

Return-to-Work Supplement Program

If you have received a SJDB voucher, you may also be eligible to receive an additional one-time payment of $5,000 through the Return-to-Work Supplement Program (RTWSP). This supplemental payment helps workers who have experienced a disproportionate loss of earnings from being injured.

The RTWSP application is only available online and must be received within one year from the date you were mailed the SJDB voucher. To complete the application, you must provide the entire SJDB voucher or SJDB voucher proof of service, the adjudication (ADJ) number and the workers’ compensation claim number. The RTWSP must review the application within 60 days from the date you filed and if you are eligible for the supplement, payment must be issued within 25 days after eligibility is determined.

At our firm, the workers' compensation attorneys in Fresno have a detailed understanding of these different forms of compensation, including eligibility requirements and the compensation rates for the different types of benefits.

We can help pursue the compensation you deserve so your injury does not create a financial crisis for you and your family. 

Call Berry, Smith & Bartell at 1-800-848-6288 now for a free consultation.

What to Do After Getting Injured at Work in Fresno

After a workplace accident, you may be confused and unsure about what to do next. A Fresno workers’ compensation attorney can guide you through the entire legal process from reporting your injury to filing a claim or appealing a claim if you have been denied compensation.

Report Your Injury or Illness to Your Employer

If you are injured at work or developed a work-related illness over a period of time, you should immediately inform your employer and seek immediate medical treatment if needed. You must report your injury to your employer within 30 days of the accident.

If you decide to wait, it could take longer to obtain the benefits you are entitled to or possibly hurt your chances of obtaining compensation. Not reporting your injury as soon as possible can make your employer and its workers’ compensation insurance company suspicious of your injury and whether it was work-related.

File a Workers' Compensation Claim

Within one day after reporting your injury or illness, your employer must give you a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC-1). The form will include information about your rights as an employee, potential benefits and other details about the workers’ compensation process.

If you do not obtain the DWC-1 form from your employer, you can obtain the form online through the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) site. Be sure to complete the employee section and be as thorough as possible by listing each part of your body injured after the accident.

Once you have filed the form, your employer must fill out its portion of the form and submit the completed form to its workers’ compensation insurance company and give you a copy. The claims administrator will then investigate your claim to decide if its valid. If you do not hear back within 90 days after filing your claim, you can consider your claim to be approved.

Workers' Compensation Claim Denials

If your claim is denied, it can be for a number of reasons. Your employer and its insurance company may feel there is insufficient evidence of an injury, your injury is not work-related or due to another job, you do not require medical treatment, or you can return to work.

On the other hand, even if your claim is approved, you might feel that you did not receive the benefits you deserve. Our Fresno workers’ compensation lawyers can review your situation and determine the fair value of your claim.

Appealing a Workers' Compensation Denial

If you disagree with the decision and cannot reach a settlement with your employer or claims administrator, you have the right to have your case heard by a judge. You must file an Application for Adjudication of Claim with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB). You must file within one year after the date of your injury, the last day your employer provided medical benefits or the day when temporary disability benefits ended.

After you have filed, your employer may file an answer within 10 days after which both parties may engage in discovery to prepare for the hearing. Once both sides are prepared to request a hearing with a workers’ compensation judge, a Declaration of Readiness to Proceed will need to be filed.

If the case is not settled by then, a hearing must be held within 75 days after the Declaration of Readiness is filed. The workers’ compensation judge will consider all the evidence provided and render a decision within 30 days of the date the trial ends.

If the rendering is unsatisfactory, any decision from a workers’ compensation judge can be appealed to the WCAB. An appeal made to WCAB must be submitted within 20 days after the judge’s decision. A WCAB panel in Fresno will then decide it accept or deny reconsideration based on the evidence.

If your claim was denied or you were not awarded the benefits you deserve, you need an experienced attorney on your side. A workers’ compensation lawyer in Fresno can help you prepare the appropriate documents, file within the deadlines and represent your best interests in all legal proceedings.

Fill out a Free Case Evaluation form or call us at 1-800-848-6288.

Contact Our Fresno Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today

When you suffer a work-related injury or illness, you should consider seeking legal representation as soon as possible. A skilled work injury attorney can help you manage every step of the workers’ compensation process and pursue the necessary compensation you deserve.

At Berry, Smith & Bartell, our Fresno workers’ compensation lawyers can provide you with a free, no obligation consultation to find out if you have a case. All of our services are provided at no upfront cost. You only pay us if we help you recover compensation.

For a free case evaluation with Berry, Smith & Bartell, a Professional Law Corporation call 1-800-848-6288 today!

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Decades of Workers' Compensation Experience in the Central Valley

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