What Benefits Are Available for Injured Or Sick Workers?

November 17, 2021 | 6:00 am


California adopted workers’ compensation laws to help and protect workers if they become ill or injured as a direct result of their jobs. But many people don’t realize the different benefits available to them today.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles work injury lawyer Beatriz Trejo highlights in a new video the five basic benefits available to injured workers. These five benefits are spelled out below.

But first, it’s important to note that workers’ comp. is based on a no-fault system, which means that an injured or ill employee does not need to prove that the injury or illness was someone else’s fault in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits. And employers in California are required by law to pay for workers’ compensation benefits.

For more detailed information, please see the “Workers’ Compensation in California” guidebook, which is meant to help workers with job injuries understand their basic legal rights, the steps to take to request workers’ compensation benefits, and where to seek further information and help if necessary. And if you believe you have a case, please contact the work injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles for a free consultation.

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1) Temporary Disability

Temporary disability benefits are payments you get if you lose wages because your injury prevents you from doing your usual job while recovering. It pays two-thirds of your pre-tax wages you lose while you are recovering from a job injury. These payments begin when your doctor says you can’t do your usual work for more than three days or you get hospitalized overnight. Generally, temporary disability stops when you return to work, or when the doctor releases you for work, or says your injury has improved as much as it’s going to. If you can do some work while recovering and your employer offers you this type of work, you can receive temporary partial disability payments if your wages while recovering are below a maximum limit set by law.

 

2) Medical Treatment

California workers’ compensation law requires claims administrators to authorize and pay for medical care that is reasonably required to cure or relieve the effects of the injury. The doctors who treat you must follow treatment guidelines referred to as the medical treatment utilization schedule. If it’s an emergency, your employer must make sure that you have access to emergency treatment right away. For non-emergency care, the claims administrator is required to authorize treatment within one working day after you file a claim form. While investigating your claim, he or she must authorize necessary treatment up to $10,000

 

3) Permanent Disability

Most workers recover from their job injuries, but some workers continue to have health problems. If your treating doctor says you will never recover completely or will always be limited in the work you can do, you may have a permanent disability, and this means that you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits. And you don’t have to lose your job to be eligible for these benefits. When you reach a point where your medical condition is not improving and not getting worse, your condition is called “permanent and stationary”. This is referred to as the point in time when you have reached maximal medical improvement. Click here to learn more about “P&S”.

 

4) Job Displacement Voucher

A claims administrator must offer you a supplemental job displacement benefit if your injury causes permanent partial disability, or your employer does not offer you regular, modified, or alternative work within 60 days after the claims administrator receives a voucher report. A supplemental job displacement benefit is a voucher that promises to help pay for educational retraining or skill enhancement, or both, at eligible schools. You can use the voucher to pay for tuition, fees, books, tools, or other expenses required by the school for retraining or skill enhancement, and for licensing or professional certification fees, related examination fees, and examination preparation course fees. Up to $600 of the voucher money may be used to pay for services of a licensed placement agency, a vocational or return-to-work counselor (a person who helps injured workers develop their goals and plans for returning to work), and resume preparation. Up to $1,000 may be used to purchase computer equipment. Up to $500 of the voucher money may be used upon request for miscellaneous expenses without receipts or other documentation. Learn more about the voucher system here.

 

5) Death Benefits

Death benefits are payments to a spouse, children or other dependents if an employee dies from a work-related injury or illness. This includes burial expenses. The amount of the death benefit depends on the number of total and/or partial dependents. In the case of one or more totally dependent minors, death benefits will continue until youngest minor’s 18th birthday. Learn more about death benefits, including amount limits, by clicking here.

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Work injury lawyer James Yoro provides insight for cancer cases involving former refinery workers

September 11, 2019 | 6:00 am


Editor’s Note: Chain | Cohn | Stiles workers’ compensation lawyer James Yoro provided advice and legal insight in the local cases involving the Mohawk Refinery in Bakersfield, and workers who may have been exposed to cancer causing materials. Trusts have been set up to distribute fund to those who either worked at or are related to someone who worked at the refinery before 1980 and later developed cancer.

Below is the article published in The Bakersfield Californian, followed by a news video interview by KBFX Eyewitness News:

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Decades can pass before cancer from asbestos exposure becomes evident, and by that time, who’s to say exactly who or what is to blame?

It almost doesn’t matter: Lawyers say that if documentation can be found showing a cancer patient spent enough time working somewhere asbestos was present — and the cancer is consistent with exposure to the carcinogen — then there’s a chance that financial compensation may be available to the person or the person’s heir.

Such is the case with the former Mohawk Refinery on Rosedale Highway.

People who either worked at or are related to someone who worked at the refinery before 1980 and later developed cancer could be eligible for compensation.

People who qualify may be entitled to thousands of dollars, maybe tens of thousands, from any of several trusts set up to disburse money to victims of asbestos exposure.

Though no longer in wide use, asbestos used to be a common material in refineries and other industrial sites. As a result of exposure, workers who inhaled or ingested its microfibers may, over time, develop mesothelioma or lung, esophageal, laryngeal, pharyngeal, stomach, colon or rectal cancer.

The National Cancer Institute says 10 to 40 years can pass before asbestos-related cancers begin to appear.

The refinery has been declared a “qualified site.” That means instead of suing for compensation, qualified victims or their heirs need only prove how long the person was employed there — five years may be enough to qualify — and turn over medical records showing the cancer diagnosis.

Liability for paying such claims does not rest with the refinery or its former owners. Instead, payments would come from five asbestos trusts set up to cover injury claims.

The Bakersfield refinery was owned by Mohawk Petroleum Corp. when it first opened in 1932. It changed hands many times over the years, merging along the way with neighboring operations, and is now owned by Delek US. It is closed and has not operated for 12 consecutive months since 2012.

 

FINDING DOCUMENTATION

In the case of a qualified asbestos site, the process of filing and collecting on a claim does not typically involve a lawsuit. Even so, the process is not always easy; the difficult part can be collecting pathology reports, doctor’s reports and employment records.

Filing a claim has no effect on a person’s pension or Social Security benefits.

Lawyer James A. Yoro, an equity partner in the Bakersfield law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, said a statute of limitations limits the window of opportunity for filing a claim against an asbestos trust. But because the window only opens when a person becomes aware of the cancer diagnosis, he said, the statute doesn’t usually become a barrier to payment.

While asbestos claims are not unheard of in Kern, Yoro said, those related to valley fever are more common here.

He noted that someone making an asbestos claim may have been exposed to the carcinogen at different times at various locations. This diversity of exposures does not generally affect a person’s chances of collecting payment from an asbestos trust.

 

ANOTHER AVENUE

Yoro also pointed out another option available to people exposed to asbestos while at work in California. It’s called the Asbestos Workers’ Account and it is part of a fund in the state Treasury.

How long and difficult the process of collecting on an asbestos claim often depends on the documentation a claimant provides, Yoro said. The more records available, he said, the better.

He advised that anyone with a possible claim consider filing one.

“If somebody does have a potential claim, they should definitely try it out,” he said. “There’s nothing to lose by trying it.”

 

ASBESTOS TRUSTS

Dozens of trusts exist to pay out asbestos-related medical claims. In the case of the former Mohawk Refinery along Rosedale Highway, these five trusts have money that can be claimed by people who used to work there and contracted cancer, or whose antecedents did.

The trusts were established to pay out future claims against these companies:

  • Babcock & Wilcox (B&W), which used asbestos as insulation in boilers
  • Halliburton, manufacturer of asbestos-containing turbines, pumps and compressors
  • J.T. Thorpe, which used asbestos to make refractory materials
  • Pittsburgh Corning Corp., maker of pipe-insulating products with asbestos in them
  • Fibreboard, manufacturer of fiberglass insulation and other materials that contain asbestos

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If you or someone you know is hurt on the job, or hurt in an accident at the fault of someone else, please contact lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com for more information.

*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

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MEDIA COVERAGE