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What compensation can be expected after a workplace injury?

California employers must provide workers' compensation insurance for their employees. While workers are mostly aware of the hazards they face in their line of employment, they may be unsure of the level of compensation they may expect should a workplace injury occur. Not knowing how the workers' compensation system works may cause anxiety for workers and their families.

The medical care benefits cover all expenses related to the treatment received to relieve or cure the effects of the injury. This includes doctor and hospital bills, prescriptions for medication and, in some cases, even the travel expenses to and from the hospital. If the injury causes a limited absence from work, the fund will provide temporary disability benefits that will be a percentage of the worker's weekly wages. However, if the injury is severe enough to render the worker completely disabled and unable to return to work, permanent disability benefits may be paid. The level of compensation depends on the nature and severity of the injury and may involve substantial amounts of money to cover future wages.

When a worker's injuries allows him or her to continue working at a limited level for a lower wage, temporary partial compensation may be paid based on the percentage difference between the worker's regular wage and the post-injury earnings. Workers' compensation may offer vocational rehabilitation when an employee cannot return to the same occupation but can perform other tasks. During the search for a suitable position, some compensation may be paid, or the employer may offer the worker a different position.

California employers may reinstate a worker to a former position upon his or her return to work after a workplace injury. However, they may alternatively offer rehabilitation and retrain a worker to perform a different job. Some workers are overwhelmed by the procedures involved when claims are pursued and choose to retain the services of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to protect their rights and guide them through the process of pursuing a claim for benefits.

Source: FindLaw, "Workers' Comp Benefits and Returning to Work", Accessed on March 3, 2015

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