The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) employs more than 18,000 workers throughout the state, providing essential transportation services to state residents. Caltrans employees have demanding jobs, and many of these essential workers face significant risks of injuries every day. Vehicle accidents, equipment malfunctions, and other hazards can easily cause workplace injuries that lead to expensive medical bills and long recovery times for affected employees. Many of these employees also develop medical complications from repetitive stress injuries caused by their job duties.
Suppose you or a loved one works for Caltrans and has experienced any workplace injury or developed an illness or medical condition due to job duties. In that case, you or your loved one has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. California state law requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and this law applies to state agencies such as Caltrans as well as private employers. Unfortunately, filing a workers’ compensation claim and obtaining benefits for a workplace injury are often easier said than done. Many injured Caltrans workers experience unforeseen difficulties with their workers’ compensation claims.
Leviton, Diaz & Ginocchio Inc. can provide the legal guidance you need when you must file a workers’ compensation claim for an injury suffered while working for Caltrans. While Caltrans offers employees many competitive employment benefits and other perks, injured employees must follow the same filing process for workers’ compensation as employees of private companies in California. This process is tedious and challenging, and having a California workers’ compensation lawyer assist you can significantly streamline your experience with the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC).
Caltrans employees include highway maintenance workers, vehicle repair technicians, environmental surveyors, and various office workers;any of them can potentially sustain serious workplace injuries while performing their job duties. Highway maintenance workers must use heavy machinery and specialized equipment to perform their duties, and some of these machines are easily capable of causing unpredictable serious injuries. Caltrans employees who work on vehicles must use special tools and face various risks while maintaining government vehicles. While generally not too susceptible to acute injuries, office workers can still sustain slip and fall injuries or develop medical complications such as carpal tunnel syndrome due to the repetitive nature of some of their job duties.
Whenever a Caltrans employee sustains a workplace injury or notices a medical condition caused by their job duties, they should immediately report the issue to their supervisor. This will start the workers’ compensation claim process, and the supervisor must provide the injured employee with the materials they need to file a claim. Generally, supervisors in state agencies like Caltrans are more than helpful in assisting their employees’ workers’ compensation claims. However, there is always a possibility that a supervisor will be difficult to deal with and resist providing an injured employee with the claim materials and guidance they need to successfully file a workers’ compensation claim.
The California DWC provides two forms of workers’ compensation benefits for most claims: coverage for the claimant’s medical expenses and disability benefits that pay a percentage of the claimant’s average weekly wage while recovering from their injury. It’s possible to secure short-term or long-term disability benefits based on the severity of a workplace injury and how long the victim will need to recover. In extreme cases, an injured worker who develops a permanent disability from a workplace injury and cannot return to work can qualify for disability benefits for the rest of their life.
The workers’ compensation claim process begins once an injured employee reports their injury to their employer. Therefore, it is always best to report workplace injuries as soon as they occur to streamline the workers’ compensation claim process. Additionally, the California DWC will look at any delays in reporting a workplace injury with suspicion, likely lengthening the time required to complete their investigation and process the claim.
An injured Caltrans employee must then visit a physician approved by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier for a medical examination. Any injured worker in California has the right to seek emergency treatment from any available doctor when they are critically injured and need immediate care, but once they stabilize, they must visit an approved workers’ compensation physician to receive their disability rating. This rating pertains to the severity of the worker’s injury and their prognosis for future complications or disabilities. The higher the disability rating, the greater the number of benefits the injured worker may receive. Higher disability ratings also tend to lead to more extended periods of qualification for benefits.
The California DWC typically limits benefits to a maximum of 104 weeks,which may be spread out over five years, but this can be extended for severe injuries that cause permanent disabilities and medical complications. It’s also possible for the surviving family of a Caltrans worker killed at work to receive death benefits through the workers’ compensation system along with additional life insurance and related benefits offered by Caltrans.
The workers’ compensation claim process is much more complex than most injured Caltrans workers expect, and handling this process while also struggling with the aftermath of a workplace injury can be incredibly challenging. Working with an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney is one of the best ways to approach this situation. Your legal team can assist you in completing your claim forms and gathering any supplemental information you must submit to the California DWC. In addition, if you encounter any issues with your employer in response to your request to file a claim, or if you encounter unexpected problems with the California DWC’s handling of your claim for benefits, your California workers’ compensation lawyer can assist with these matters as well.
The California workers’ compensation attorneys at Leviton, Diaz & Ginocchio Inc. each have more than 20 years of professional experience assisting our clients in Santa Ana and surrounding areas with their workers’ compensation claims, and we can help with your claim. We understand the unique risks facing Caltrans workers and are ready to support you after you have suffered an injury on the job that has generated expensive medical bills and caused financial strain for you and your family. If you are ready to discuss workers’ compensation following a Caltrans workplace accident, contact Leviton, Diaz & Ginocchio, Inc. to schedule a consultation with an experienced Orange County Caltrans workers’ compensation lawyer.