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Filing a Workplace Compensation Lawsuit in California

Filing a Workplace Compensation Lawsuit in California

Have you suffered an injury while performing a job? UnderCalifornia’s Workers Compensation Act,  you can receive compensation from the employer. The law requires employers to ensure safe working conditions. Failure to provide a safe working environment will make the employer liable for injuries.

Common workplace injuries in California include injuries due to falls and vehicle accidents. A lot of injuries also occur when moving or lifting objects. All work-related illnesses and injuries make workers eligible for worker compensation benefits.

Here you will find out about specific worker compensation laws in California. You will also learn about when and how to file a worker compensation lawsuit after an injury.

California Worker Compensation Laws

An employer must offer worker compensation benefits under California Labor Code Section 3700. This is mandatory for every employee who suffers an injury at the workplace.

The California Labor Code Section 3208 has specified two types of workplace injuries. These include specific injuries and cumulative trauma.

Specific Injuries

A specific injury includes injuries that occur due to an incident. The injuries may occur due to slip and fall or other workplace accidents. The injured person may have to undergo medical treatment and miss work.

Cumulative Trauma

Cumulative trauma refers to injuries that occur over time. An example of cumulative trauma includes physical or psychological abuse that spans over several months.  Asbestos exposure is also an example of cumulative trauma.

Under California law, the main criterion is that the injuries should have occurred at work. You can file a claim for injuries arising out of employment (AOE).

When Should You File a Worker Compensation Claim?

As per Labor Code Section 5400, a worker must submit a written notification of an injury within 30 days. But Labor Code Section 5402 also states that a verbal notification is also the same as a written notice. Moreover, note that a failure to give notice won’t prevent you from claiming benefits. You can still file a claim if the employer somehow got to know about the injury but took no action.

Still, the best practice is to notify about the injury. You must notify about the incident in case of a catastrophic injury. This is important so that the employer can refer you to a qualified doctor. You can’t get any benefits if you don’t report within 30 days of the injury in this situation.

After getting treatment, you should fill a Division of Worker’s Compensation Form 1. Submit this form to the employer who will forward it to the insurance company.

Also, you need to submit an Application for Adjudication of Claim within a year of injury. This form represents an official submission of a worker’s compensation claim.

Contacting a Workplace Injury Attorney

If the employer’s insurance company denies worker compensation, you can file an appeal. You can also file an appeal if you disagree with the worker’s compensation amount.

To file an appeal, you need to fill a Declaration of Readiness to Proceed. You should submit this form with the Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board. You should also give this form to the employer’s insurance company.

In case you disagree with the decision of the Appeals Board, you can file a lawsuit. You should contact a workplace compensation attorney to file a case in the local court. The attorney will help you meet court formalities to make a successful claim in court.

You should file a case within the time mentioned in the California Statute of Limitation. The Statute of Limitation allows you to file a case within one year of the year. Not filing a case within the period will bar you from getting compensation for your injuries.

What Happens If an Employer Terminates You After an Injury?

You can claim compensation even if an employer terminates you after an injury. To file a claim, you have to prove the following in the court.

  • The injury happened before the employer terminated you or before your last day at work
  • You had notified the employer about the injury
  • You have the medical records that show injuries occurred before a layoff
  • You had experienced a cumulative trauma and the effects were visible after a layoff

In case you have suffered psychological abuse, the requirements are a little different. As per the Labor Code Section 3208.3 (e), you have to prove the following to make a claim.

  • You had experienced extraordinary or unusual abuse
  • The abuse involved racial or sexual harassment
  • The abuse happened before the date of termination or last day at work

Does the Worker’s Compensation Law Apply to Independent Contractors?

California worker compensation law only applies to employees. Independent contractors cannot claim compensation for workplace injuries.

Make sure you understand the difference between an employee and an independent contractor.  An employer can deny benefits to you if it’s proved that you are an independent contractor.

Various factors determine whether the worker is an employer or an independent contractor. The most important factor is the control over what and how a worker should perform tasks. The work setup determines the status of the worker, not the employer. You can claim compensation only if the nature of work shows you are an employee.


Every employer has to offer workplace compensation to the injured employee. This is mandatory for all employees as per the California law.

If you have suffered an injury, you should notify the employer within 30 days of the injury. You must also submit an Application for Adjudication of Claim within a year of the injury. In case you don’t agree with the compensation amount, you can file an appeal or another lawsuit.

Our workplace injury attorneys will guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit. Our attorneys will go at great lengths to get you the largest possible compensation amount. The chances of making a successful claim will be high when you get the help of Bernard & Bernard Attorneys.

About The Author

LA Injury Attorneys

Shane Bernard is a prominent Los Angeles attorney. Mr. Bernard has a degree in philosophy from New York University and dual minors in both psychology and United States history.