California Workers Compensation Law
California Workmans Comp - Compensation Law and Attorney

California workers compensation law is administered by the California department of industrial relations. They have a recorded message providing answers to many typical questions 24/7 at 1-800-736- 7401. During normal business hours you may call a local office and ask to speak with the Information and Assistance (I&A) Unit. The program also offers free informational seminars for injured workers.

Workers comp in CA is similar to other states. It provides coverage for employees in the event of injuries or illnesses obtained while on the job. Examples of situations covered under the program include slipping on spilled liquids and injuring your back, or getting hurt in a vehicle accident while making deliveries for work. There may also be situations that develop over time such as loss of hearing resulting from repeated exposure to excessive noises at work.

CA workers comp insurance provides 6 main benefits:

  • Temporary Disability Benefits - These payments cover a portion of the wages you lose while you are recovering from a temporary condition and are unable to work
  • Permanent Disability Benefits - If your injury or illness is a permanent condition that will prevent you from working, these payments cover some of your lost wages.
  • Medical Care - While you are recovering, the medical treatments are covered by your employer
  • Vocational Rehabilitation - If your condition happened before 2004, this benefit provides job placement assistance and retraining if you have been unable to return to your previous job
  • Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits - If your condition happened during or after 2004, these vouchers help cover retraining if you don't return to work for your previous employer
  • Death Benefits - Family members of workers killed on the job are eligible for payments

If you have been injured at work, report the situation and details to your supervisor as soon as possible. Prompt reporting of workers compensation issues helps prevent delays in payments. If your employer is not aware of the incident within 30 days, you may even risk losing your benefits under workers comp.

You must complete a DWC form 1 and submit it to your employer. Your employer will provide this form for you. If you have trouble getting the form from your employer, you can download it on the DWC website.

If your injury occurred in 2004 or later, there are limits on the treatment you may receive. Chiropractor, physical therapy and occupational therapy visits are limited to 24 visits unless additional visits are authorized.

Under Temporary Disability Payments, you should expect to receive about 2/3rds of the gross wages you would normally receive while working. However, there is a maximum amount allowed which is about $882 as of 2007. These benefit payments are not taxed.

Injured workers are not required to have attorneys during the claim process. You may handle the issues yourself. However, the process can be quite complex and you may want to consider the assistance of an attorney that specializes in compensation claims.

The claims process can become lengthy. It's fairly common for one side to suggest a settlement as a means to resolve disputes. While a lump sum settlement may seem attractive, it's wise to consider all the factors before accepting. Many times you may lose any rights to any additional actions under the claim. Your injury may digress or continue to provide problems for you. You may have ongoing prescription and medical costs. You may lose the ability to earn income at the level you were previously earning. Consider these factors before making a final decision on a settlement.

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Workers comp in California is administered by:

Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC)
1515 Clay Street
17th floor
Oakland, CA 94612-1402
(510) 286-7100

Find out about workers comp codes

Get workers comp forms

Learn more about what is workers comp

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