Other Benefits of Workers’ Compensation
Experienced attorneys maximize your benefits in Salinas, Watsonville, Santa Cruz, and Monterey, CA
At Rucka, O’Boyle, Lombardo & McKenna, our goal is to help clients throughout the Monterey Peninsula obtain the maximum workers’ compensation benefits possible. The four principal benefits provide substantial assistance if you are injured on the job, but they simply don’t go far enough in protecting you for a serious injury or illness. Our attorneys, many of whom are certified specialists in workers’ compensation law, are determined to help you access all the benefits you’re entitled to.
Mileage reimbursement for medical treatment
Your employer is required to provide all treatment that is reasonable and necessary to cure or relieve you from the effects of your industrial injury or illness. Such treatment includes “medical, surgical, chiropractic, acupuncture and hospital treatment, including nursing, medicines, medical & surgical supplies, crutches and apparatus, including orthotic and prosthetic devices and services… and mileage.” Yes, you can be reimbursed for the gas you burn going to and from your medical treatments.
Most workers’ compensation insurance companies will compare your mileage reimbursement requests to the doctor’s billing records as well as an internet map service to check for accuracy. That’s why it’s important for you to keep an accurate record of every mile driven to your doctor’s office, hospital, physical therapist, and so on, and keep a copy of your reimbursement request when you submit it to the insurance company.
Light-duty assignments while recovering from your injury or illness
Because workers’ comp only pays about two-thirds of your wage while you are unable to work, it’s important to get back to work as quickly as possible to avoid financial hardship. For this reason, your employer may assign you “light duty” while you are still recovering. You can accept this work without any reduction in your disability payments. It’s wise for you to accept, because a refusal to perform light duty could make you ineligible for supplemental job displacement benefits.
However, your employer cannot assign you just any job. The duty must meet these requirements:
- The work must last at least 12 months.
- The tasks must meet your medical restrictions.
- The pay must be at least 85 percent of the wages at your previous position.
- The worksite must be located at a reasonable commuting distance.
You have a right to refuse to perform any tasks that exceed your work limitations. Keep a copy of your doctor-supplied work limitations with you at all times and assert your rights whenever necessary.
Protection while looking for other jobs
A previous injury claim should not prevent you from exploring other employment opportunities. For that reason, the law prohibits employers from asking questions, verbally or on an employment application, about your health or medical history during job interviews. In addition, employers may not inquire whether you have ever filed a workers’ compensation claim. However, they can ask about your ability to perform specific tasks related to the job.
Your right to settle a claim for a reasonable amount
In cases where a worker is permanently disabled and/or requires future medical treatment, an insurance company usually wants to settle the claim rather than continuing to pay week after week, year after year. A settlement allows the insurance company to write off its losses and lets the claimant receive money upfront, which can grow with prudent investment.
Two types of settlements are available in a California workers’ compensation case:
- Compromise & Release — With a C&R, the workers’ compensation insurance company pays a lump sum of money to close out a case in its entirety. This includes any compensation for medical treatment. The benefit of this type of settlement is that the insurance company pays extra money to buy out any rights the injured worker has to future medical treatment. The money is paid in one lump sum within 30 days of the judge’s approval.
- Stipulation with Request for Award — With Stips, in most cases, the option for future medical treatment remains. This means that the resulting monetary settlement is less, and the workers’ compensation insurance company pays the award every two weeks, usually at a rate of between $170 and $230.
Negotiating a settlement is complex, requiring specific, in-depth knowledge that only comes from experience. You can rely on our workers’ comp specialists to negotiate successfully to resolve your claim on favorable terms.
Contact our law firm to maximize your workers’ comp benefits in Salinas, Watsonville, Santa Cruz, and Monterey, CA
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or illness at work, it is important to consult with experienced attorneys who know how to maximize your benefits. Rucka, O’Boyle, Lombardo & McKenna has served Monterey Bay Region employees for more than 35 years. To schedule a free initial consultation with us to discuss your case, call 831-443-1051 or contact us online. For the convenience of our clients, we offer same-day appointments and services in Spanish.