The workers’ compensation system is carefully constructed to protect both employers and their employees from the economic impact of on-the-job injuries. When an employee suffers an injury at work in California, the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) can provide coverage for their medical expenses and the lost income incurred during their recovery period. In severe cases, workers’ compensation benefits can also compensate injured employees for long-term losses when they develop permanent disabilities from workplace injuries. In turn, workers’ compensation insurance shields employers from most financial liabilities stemming from their employees’ injuries. In California, every employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Police and firefighters are public servants who routinely face severe risks of grievous workplace injuries. Police officers throughout California regularly encounter potentially damaging and life-threatening situations, and firefighters must risk their lives and face various medical risks every time they respond to emergency calls. As a result, both police officers and firefighters in California have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits when they sustain injuries at work.
Leviton, Diaz & Ginocchio Inc. is a team of experienced California workers’ compensation attorneys who can help our clients navigate the complex workers’ compensation claim system, resolve disputes regarding their claims, and secure the benefits they need following workplace injuries. While the workers’ compensation system aims to provide financial relief to injured workers, including police officers and firefighters working across California, many claimants encounter issues with their claims, from extended processing times and delays to unfair denials and even interference from their employers. If you or a loved one works as a police officer or firefighter in Santa Ana or anywhere else in California and needs assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, we can help.
Police officers have an inherently dangerous job. They must apprehend dangerous suspects at times and face gunfire, stab wounds, and damaging falls in pursuit of suspects. They must also navigate difficult and dangerous areas such as dilapidated buildings, narrow alleys, and multi-story buildings in conducting police business. Vehicle accidents are also a job risk for police officers when they must engage in high-speed pursuits.
Firefighters must contend with flaming structures. Although they have heavy-duty equipment designed to protect them from burns, they still face dangerous conditions such as structurally unstable buildings, smoke inhalation, and exposure to chemicals leaking from damaged buildings. In addition, both police and firefighters face risks of acute injuries every day on the job and medical complications from repeated physical stress and exposure to harmful substances.
Workers’ compensation can compensate medical expenses and lost income resulting from both acute injuries and accidents as well as more serious medical complications that gradually worsen over time. A California workers’ compensation attorney is an excellent resource for any police officer or firefighter who is unsure whether they qualify to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation functions on an insurance policy basis. Every employer in California must carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Therefore, every employee in California has the right to file a claim for benefits if they suffer an injury or develop a medical condition from their work. When you need to file a workers’ compensation claim, you must report your injury or illness to your supervisor as soon as possible; any delay in reporting your injury will interfere with your claim. Once your employer becomes aware of your injury or illness, they must provide you with the materials you need to submit a workers’ compensation claim.
Every workers’ compensation insurance carrier has a list of approved physicians that a claimant may visit for medical examination and disability rating. While an injured police officer or firefighter may seek treatment from any available doctor in an emergency, visiting an approved workers’ compensation doctor is a crucial step for any workers’ compensation claim. The worker’s compensation physician will evaluate the claimant and assign a disability rating based on the severity of their injury or illness and the prognosis for future medical complications or disabilities.
The claimant’s disability rating will determine the extent of the benefits for which they qualify. A low disability rating will likely lead to medical expense coverage and short-term disability benefits until the claimant can return to duty. For more severe injuries that result in higher disability ratings, claimants can expect long-term or even permanent disability benefits. In addition, in the event a police officer or firefighter dies in the line of duty, their surviving family would likely qualify for some level of workers’ compensation benefits in addition to any life insurance or other survivor benefits provided by the deceased’s respective police or fire department.
The process of filing a workers’ compensation claim and securing appropriate benefits for your injury is much easier in theory than it is in practice. Your California workers’ compensation lawyer can help you complete the paperwork you must file to submit your workers’ compensation claim. They can also assist you in gathering the supplemental materials you may need to submit to the California DWC for them to process your claim. These materials may include medical reports from your doctor and incident reports detailing the nature of your workplace injury.
Unfortunately, a claimant can encounter many potential issues with their workers’ compensation claim. For example, the California DWC may delay the processing of their claim for several reasons, potentially citing a lack of information or procedural misstep. It’s also possible for an employer to illegally interfere with a workers’ compensation claim in an attempt to avoid increasing workers’ compensation premiums or even take punitive action against an injured worker in response to their desire to file a workers’ compensation claim.
The attorneys at Leviton, Diaz & Ginocchio Inc. have more than 20 years of professional experience handling a wide breadth of workers’ compensation claims for clients in Santa Ana, CA, and surrounding communities. We understand the stress and uncertainty that can follow any workplace injury and the unique risks facing law enforcement officers and firefighters who work tirelessly to keep California communities safe. Suppose you are a police officer or firefighter struggling with a workplace injury. In that case, we can guide you through the workers’ compensation claim process and help you secure the benefits you and your family deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a compassionate Orange County Police Firefighters workers compensation attorney.