Who is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation in California?

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California has a robust workers’ compensation system to protect state employees who sustain on-the-job injuries or illnesses. However, understanding who can receive these benefits after an injury or illness occurs can be confusing, particularly when discussing independent contractors, which constitute a large part of the California workforce. Here, we want to review California workers’ compensation eligibility and discuss whether or not you need a Long Beach worker’s compensation attorney to help with your claim.

California Workers’ Compensation Eligibility

By law, California employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, even if they only have one employee on staff.

We specifically want to point out that undocumented workers in California are also eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. We understand that the process of filing for a work injury claim and benefits can be complicated by the fact that a person is undocumented, particularly if individuals are fearful of coming forward. However, these benefits are available, and an attorney can help you receive them.

In California, workers who sustain injuries on the job are entitled to various types of workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are designed to cover different aspects of recovery and financial support during the period an employee is unable to work. Here’s an overview of the different types of workers’ compensation benefits available:

  1. Medical care. Pays for all necessary medical treatment related to the work injury or illness until a doctor determines the individual has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
  2. Temporary disability benefits. Provides compensation for lost wages if an injury prevents an employee from doing their usual job while recovering.
  3. Permanent disability benefits. Available if an employee does not fully recover and is permanently unable to return to their job or must work reduced hours due to the injury.
  4. Supplemental job displacement benefits. If eligible, injured workers can receive vouchers to help pay for retraining or skill enhancement if they do not return to work for their employer.
  5. Death benefits. Payments to the spouse, children, or other dependents if a worker dies from a job injury or illness.

Independent Contractors and Workers’ Comp in California

By the letter of the law, independent contractors do not receive workers’ compensation benefits because they are not employees. However, California has spent considerable effort over the last decade to crack down on employers misclassifying workers as independent contractors to avoid paying certain benefits, including workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

Technically, independent contractors are not able to receive benefits if they sustain an injury related to their job. By definition, contractors are their own employers contracted to someone else. However, there are some possibilities for recovering compensation for independent contractors who sustain workplace injuries.

First, if the negligent actions of another party caused the injury, the independent contractor may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court to recover the compensation they need. Second, if an employee has been misclassified as an independent contractor, a Long Beach workplace accident attorney can help sort through these issues and help the employee receive the compensation they are actually entitled to.