No one goes to work expecting to get hurt. It’s your employer’s duty to provide a safe working environment.

However, workplace accidents can – and do – happen. If you’re hurt on the job, it’s crucial you know what your options are. Below, our attorneys explain what legal rights you have if you’re injured at work in California.

Injured at Work – California Law

California laws allow injured workers to claim damages, or financial benefits, if they’re hurt while performing their duties. If you’re injured at work in California, you have two main options: 

  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim; and
  • Making a personal injury claim.

You can file both types of claims if this is appropriate in the circumstances. Our accident attorneys can advise what legal options you have, based on why your injuries occurred. For now, though, let’s consider how these claims processes work.

Workers’ Compensation

Employers are required, under California’s Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973, to have an injury prevention program in place. The program allows injured workers to claim workers comp benefits if they’re injured on the job. 

  • There’s no need to prove anyone caused your injury. You’re entitled to claim even if it was a complete accident.
  • Workers’ comp benefits cover a range of losses, including medical bills and lost income. It can also cover the cost of retraining if you can’t do the same job as before.
  • Workers’ comp covers death benefits if an employee dies due to their injuries.
  • Typically, you can’t claim workers’ comp if you’re an independent contractor, or freelancer.

If you claim workers’ comp but your claim is denied, it’s usually possible to appeal the decision. This is not a step you should manage alone; financially, there’s too much at stake.

Personal Injury Claim

You can claim civil damages if your employer’s negligence caused your injuries. To prove your case, you must show that:

  • Your employer knew, or should have known about the possible hazard.
  • Your employer failed to remedy the problem or defect.
  • As a result, you suffered harm.
  • You have financial losses.

The goal is to compensate you for injuries caused by someone else’s carelessness. As with workers’ comp, you can claim damages for various losses and death benefits.

Who Should I Sue if I’m Injured at Work in California?

You can sue anyone who is at fault for your injuries. For example, this could be your employer, but it could be the manufacturer of a defective product. Or it could even be a mechanic who failed to repair a vehicle properly.

Determining who to sue is complex. Our attorneys will ensure you sue every party who could be responsible for your workplace injuries.

How Long Can You Be on Workers’ Comp in California?

It depends on the severity of your injuries and whether there’s any prospect of you returning to work.

  • Workers’ comp benefits are normally only payable for up to 104 weeks (two years).
  • Payments for long-term injuries, such as chronic or disabling conditions, can last up to 240 weeks.
  • Severely disabled or injured workers could receive disability benefits indefinitely.

And remember, these benefits don’t affect your right to claim personal injury compensation.

Are There Time Limits for Filing Workplace Injury Claims in California?

Yes. The time limits vary depending on, for example, the type of claim you have. However, the main deadlines are as follows. 

  • Civil negligence (personal injury) claim: Under the statute of limitations, you have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. Beyond this date, your case may be considered “time barred” and you’ll lose the right to claim.
  • Workers’ comp claim: You have 30 days from the accident date to notify your employer about the incident. And you must file the claim within one year of the injury occurring.

Other deadlines might apply. For example, if the worker is under 18 on the incident date, the “clock” doesn’t start running until they turn 18. And there may be different deadlines for injuries or illnesses which accumulate over time e.g. chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

Your attorney can explain what time limits apply in your case. In all instances, though, the sooner you reach out for help, the better.

Injured female worker arm in sling meeting with personal injury lawyer judges gavel on table

What to Do After a Workplace Injury

After an accident at work, it’s crucial you get the help you need. And it’s critical to gather evidence to help build your case. So, regardless of whether you have a civil case or workers’ comp claim, here’s what you should do immediately after a workplace accident. 

  • Seek medical attention, even if you don’t think your injuries are serious. Some injuries – especially head trauma – can take time to manifest. However, in any case, you can also use your medical records to support your claim.
  • Promptly report your injuries or illness to your employer. Remember, you only have 30 days from the accident date to do this. Otherwise, you could lose your right to claim workers’ comp.
  • Gather evidence. Evidence includes witness statements, pictures of hazardous conditions, and proof of lost income.
  • Contact a workplace accident attorney. An experienced attorney will work quickly to protect your legal rights and preserve evidence. They’ll also value your claim accurately, so you don’t settle for less than you deserve.

Contact the May Firm now to discuss your case with our team.

Why You Need an Attorney if You’re Injured at Work in California

It’s normal to feel daunted at the prospect of hiring a lawyer. However, it’s essential to get legal advice if you’re hurt at work.  

  • If insurers know you don’t have legal counsel, they might encourage you to accept a quick – but low – offer. This means that you risk settling for less than you deserve.
  • The legal steps involved in accident claims can be complicated. A lawyer will ensure that you meet all deadlines and complete paperwork correctly.
  • If there’s a civil claim and the other side refuses to settle, a lawyer can take your case to trial. They can present the case in your favor in a compelling, persuasive way.

Now is the time for you to focus on recovery, not rules and regulations. Let us handle the legal complexities for you. Call the May Firm now to learn more.

Free Consultation with California Workplace Accident Attorneys

Even seemingly minor workplace injuries can have significant long-term consequences. So, if you’re injured at work, you deserve to know your legal rights. That’s where the May Firm can help.

Our attorneys aren’t just passionate about winning cases. We truly care about every individual client. To us, what happened to you matters. And we will do everything we can to secure the compensation you deserve.

Every initial consultation is free, and we don’t charge you anything unless we win your case. So, you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain by calling us.

Whether someone caused your injuries, or it was a simple accident, you deserve to know your options. Contact the May Firm accident attorneys now for a free, no-obligation meeting to discuss your workplace accident.