Helpful answers from the Law Office of Scott A. Schwartz
When you suffer an on-the-job injury and can’t work, we know you have many questions. The legal team at the Law Office of Scott A. Schwartz is honored you chose us for your questions, and we’re pleased to provide answers. From what treatment to receive to what to do about pre-existing injuries and returning to work, and all the questions in between, trust that the Law Office of Scott A. Schwartz has the answers. Not only are we skilled at filing claims and getting you your benefits, we also stay up to date on new legislation and have the answers you seek.
Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions we’ve seen in workers’ compensation cases from San Fernando, Lancaster, Palmdale, and Santa Clarita, CA, as well as our clients in central coast counties, such as Kern County, San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County. The answers provided herein do not create an attorney-client relationship and are only meant as general advice. Our general advice is based on California law and not any other state in the United States or outside thereof. With ever-changing laws and unique set of facts, we invite you to contact us to discuss your case.
Will the workers’ compensation insurance company be responsible for my medical treatment in the future?
One of two types of workers’ compensation settlements, a stipulated finding and award is a settlement of your case in which the parties agree to the terms of the award. The judge signs the document to make the settlement final. This is a voluntary agreement by the parties and contains the percentage of disability agreed to as well as the number of weeks over which the disability benefits will be paid. In this situation, future medical care is left open and you may re-open your claim within five years of the date of your injury.
What happens if the workers’ compensation case is settled?
When the case is settled, the parties consider it a full and final compromise of the case. The settlement is usually a final payment to the injured worker to fully compensate him/her for the injuries sustained. Once the case is settled, no further monies are paid to the injured worker in connection with the injury. The final payment is nearly always paid in a lump sum and is tax-free.
What if the workers’ compensation insurance company won’t make a reasonable offer?
When the insurance company refuses to make an offer that is reasonable, a trial of the merits of the case is an option available to the injured worker. Remember, this is your injury and your case, and you should feel comfortable with any offer made before you accept it. Of course, the insurance company cannot force us to accept a reasonable buyout of a claim so we exercise our experience to advocate as to why the insurance company needs to raise its offer to something that we believe is fair.
What is a Compromise and Release in workers’ compensation?
A Compromise and Release closes the case, eliminates the need for payment of benefits over a period of time and eliminates your opportunity to be reimbursed for the cost of future medical care. This type of settlement agreement may not be available if you continue to work for the same employer and that employer is still insured by the same insurance company. With that said, the Law Office of Scott A. Schwartz has been successful in entering into a Compromise and Release that allows you to retain your job – even with the same insurance carrier. Nonetheless, an employer may not want to enter a Compromise and Release agreement with you while you are still under their employ because they would have to resume payment of medical benefits if you are re-injured after the settlement is complete.
Can’t I get all of the money in my workers’ compensation claim and keep the medical open?
Workers’ compensation benefits are designed to pay for necessary medical care for work-related injuries. It is important to follow your doctor’s recommendation for recovery and reach a final resolution of your medical needs. The benefits paid for a work-related injury compensate you for your injuries and are also intended to cover the cost of the medical care you need to make you whole.
What is the difference between temporary and permanent disability benefits?
Temporary benefits compensate you for treatment until you return to work. Temporary disability benefits are available when you are unable to return to work because your injury renders you unable to openly compete in the job market due to your industrial injury; or, your employer cannot accommodate your limited restrictions. Permanent disability benefits compensate you for injuries that are long-lasting without a medical expectation of reaching full recovery.
How do I appeal a decision in workers’ compensation?
When you are not satisfied with the award decision, you may set the matter for trial. The trial is filed with the state Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board by filing the appropriate paperwork and traversing through the appropriate legal channels for your "day in court." The trial is an opportunity for you to present witnesses and your own testimony to establish the existence of your injury, along with medical evidence and lead examination by the Law Office of Scott A. Schwartz.
Is my employer required to carry workers’ compensation insurance?
Yes. Even if you are the only employee, your employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Sometimes employers insure themselves – this is also fine. Unfortunately, there are times when employers fail to have any insurance. In those instances, the Law Office of Scott A. Schwartz takes special action to make sure you get medical attention and the same legal benefits that you would receive if your employer did have insurance. We are happy to help all injured workers…even when the employer does not have proper insurance.
What doctor can I visit to treat my injuries?
The workers’ compensation insurance carrier sets up a network of doctors who are approved by the Court’s administrative director. Employees covered by this network of doctors receive workers’ compensation care from a physician in the group unless, prior to the injury, the employee was eligible to predesignate his/her personal doctor. Our office also regularly works with physicians familiar with workers’ compensation law, and, if the insurance carrier denies your claim, we can refer you to a physician who provides care on a lien basis. This means the physician’s lien is not against your settlement but against the insurance carrier. These liens are resolved after final disposition of your case and do not involve your participation.
How do I file a claim?
Report the injury to your employer and request a claim form, then call a workers’ compensation lawyer to make sure your rights are protected within the court system. Having a skilled and experienced workers’ compensation attorney such as the Law Office of Scott A. Schwartz by your side from the beginning helps ensure you are given the opportunity to exhaust all your rights in an effort to compensate and/or maximize the benefits associated with your claim for the injury you sustained.
How long will it take to file my workers’ compensation case?
Our law firm expedites the filing of your case by using our cutting-edge technology. Our technology encrypts information such as your birth date and Social Security number so you are protected from compromise of your personal information. We file your case as soon as possible upon receipt of the appropriate information regarding your workers' compensation claim.
Can I be fired for filing a workers’ compensation case?
It is against the law for an employer to fire you for exercising your right to file for workers’ compensation. If your employer fires you for filing a claim, you should also consider a wrongful termination or other employment law case against your employer. You also have the option of filing an action with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board seeking reinstatement of your position. Most employers know it is illegal to fire a worker because of his/her intent to file for workers’ compensation. When it does happen, we have experience in representing you for this act of wrongful termination.
What if my employer fires me anyway?
If your employer ignores the law and fires you for seeking workers' compensation benefits, we file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Court seeking penalties, fines and reinstatement of your job. The claim filed when this happens seeks payment of lost wages and must be filed within one year from the date of wrongful and illegal termination. Therefore, it is very important that you notify your workers’ compensation attorney immediately when you are discriminated against or fired for filing a claim. A claim for wrongful termination is a separate suit outside of the Workers’ Compensation Court system. Our office is experienced in bringing those types of suits on behalf of terminated workers.