Injured Workers Compensation Rights in California

In California, every employer is required to carry workers compensation insurance. It is a cost to the employer and generally speaking, workers compensation insurance pays for medical expenses and lost wages when a person is injured while working. A person who has a muscle strain, or is injured during a fall, or even a car accident while performing work duties is entitled to compensation for those injuries through workers compensation.  There are no financial limits to the amount of necessary medical care an injured worker in California can receive.

Physician Choice

In California, the employer typically chooses the physician who will treat the injured employee.  In some circumstances though, the employee has the right to see his own personal physician but it must be a physician whom the employee named as his personal physician in writing before the injury occurred. If the employer fails to post the workers compensation rights as required by California workers compensation law, the employee may choose his own physician to treat his post-accident injuries.  Also, if the employer has not set up a “medical provider network”, an employee may switch to the physician of his choice after thirty days. If an employer has established a provider network, then the injured worker must receive his medical treatment from a network provider for the duration of the treatment.


Domestic workers who are employed for at least 52 hours and who earn at least $100.00 during the ninety day period before their injury occurs are entitled to workers compensation.  Even child care workers and agricultural workers who meet these minimum limits are covered.  The exception to this coverage is employees who are employed by a spouse, parent, or child.

Temporary vs. Permanent Disability

The court will determine whether an employee has a temporary disability or a permanent disability. A person with a permanent total disability (PTD) may receive benefits based on a percentage of his wages for life.  A person with a temporary total disability (TTD) will receive benefits based on a percentage of his wages combined with a consideration of the extent and duration of the disability for up to two years.

A person who has a partial permanent disability (PPD) will receive benefits based on a percentage of his wages and a consideration of his limited ability to work.  Physical therapy is usually covered under workers compensation. In some cases where an employee needs vocational training in order to work in a new field to accommodate his disability, workers compensation may pay for the training.

Disputes and Legal Representation

Employers and employees sometimes disagree as to the extent and permanency of an injury.  The determination of the type of disability can affect how long a person may receive benefits.  An experienced workers compensation attorney can help protect your rights by helping you document your injury and your resulting disability.

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