At first glance, it may seem obvious what workers’ compensation does: it compensates people financially for a work-related injury or illness. But what, exactly, gets compensated? Are all damages covered, or just certain types?
Workers’ compensation benefits are intended to help pay for most -- but not all -- of your expenses after you are hurt on the job. Among the costs that a worker typically faces after an accident, and which workers’ compensation will cover, there are:
- Medical care.
- Lost income.
- Compensation for permanent injuries.
- Retraining costs, if necessary.
- Survivors’ benefits, if the injury was fatal.
However, pain and suffering from the injury generally is not compensable, no matter how severe the pain is.
There is also the fact that workers’ compensation benefits generally replace the right of an injured employee to sue his or her employer for personal injury. In many states, it is not available to non-employee workers, such as independent contractors and volunteers. Some workers, such as railroad employees, have a separate system for injury compensation.
The workers’ compensation system is a promise to California’s workers that they will not face financial hardship if they ever get hurt at work. But actually getting approved for benefits can be tricky. If you have been turned down for benefits, or if the benefits you receive do not cover your expenses, you have the right to appeal. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will know how to gather medical records and other evidence to help prove the amount of benefits to which you are entitled.