Workers Compensation Frequently Asked Questions – Page Three of Six

Workers Compensation Frequently Asked Questions – Page Three of Six

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What does it mean to have a Workers’ Compensation Disability?

To have a disability within the workers’ compensation system is often misunderstood. Unlike the Social Security environment, a disability does not mean you are not able to work. Most people who have workers’ compensation disabilities continue to be gainfully employed. A disability is simply a condition that makes engaging in physical, social, and/or work activities difficult.

https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/dqualify4.html

How do I get my disability rated?

A physician will provide a report describing your limitations. You can take the report to the Disability Evaluation Unit of the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board and have someone in that department rate your injuries. They are not advocates for you, and as a result, may not provide the most favorable rating possible. Typically, it’s better to seek the advice of a skilled workers’ compensation attorney. They can prepare an objective rating from an advocacy perspective so you have a range of possible outcomes.

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What does disability management mean?

Disability management is often used in a situation where someone has a major disability and needs assistance navigating the recovery process. This typically occurs when someone has catastrophic injuries to the neck, back, and/or brain. A nurse who specializes in rehabilitation is assigned to the case to ensure you are receiving the right kind of care for past injuries and preventative care to avoid future complications.

http://www.hr.ucdavis.edu/dms/

Who is a Disability Rater?

A Disability Rater is an employee of the Disability Evaluation Unit. They are a neutral person who rates a permanent disability using medical reports. They are neither an advocate for the injured employee or insurance company. While they are extremely knowledgeable and traditionally good at their job, they do not always take into account some of the small nuances that can impact your matter. If you have potentially aggravating or contributing factors to your disability, it is advisable to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to review and work with the disability rater to ensure your disability rating is maximized.

Who is my employer for workers’ compensation purposes?

This simple question can be extremely complex in our modern word. It is not uncommon to have employees reporting to a supervisor who works for one company, but have paychecks written by a different company. Likewise, using temporary agencies and leasing companies adds more issues. Contractors controlling subcontractors can also be complicated. If there are multiple businesses and/or entities involved in your job, it is important to discuss this with your attorney. These multiple layers may cause problems in your matter, but also may provide additional remedies.

What do I list as the essential function for my job?

The essential functions for workers’ compensation purposes are those job duties and responsibilities most critical to performing your job. Explaining these functions helps your employer find alternative work that fits within your work restrictions.

Can I talk to the workers’ compensation judge directly?

A private conversation, written or oral, to a workers’ compensation judge is generally prohibited, and is referred to as an ex parte communication. The defendant and/or insurance company generally has to right to see and hear everything being said to the workers’ compensation judge. There are some rare situations in which the parties will agree to an ex parte communication, such as in an official settlement conference, but generally speaking private conversations with a judge are not allowed.

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/publications/model_code_of_judicial_conduct/model_code_of_judicial_conduct_canon_2/rule2_9expartecommunications.html

How do Fair Employment and Housing claims relate to workers’ compensation cases?

The Fair Employment and Housing Act is a California law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities. This law is intended to protect someone who has a disability not only in their job, but in future employment and housing situations. If you have been discriminated against, you may have claims that can be brought through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing or potentially in the Superior Court of California.

https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/

Will the Family and Medical Leave Act help me with my workers’ compensation case?

If you are off work for workers’ compensation purposes, you generally have protections under the workers’ compensation laws directly. However, the Family and Medical Leave Act can be helpful as well. In particular, if you are injured and a relative needs to take time off to assist you, they may be eligible to up to 12 weeks unpaid, job protected leave in a year. The law may require an employer to keep group health benefits in place while off work as well. The Family and Medical Leave Act does not always apply, so it is important you properly determine your rights before attempting to assert them.

https://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/

What does it mean to “file” something in the workers’ compensation system?

Filing is a broad term that can encompass lots of different events, but generally in the context of the workers’ compensation system, to file a document means to deliver to the WCAB and to formally have it entered as part of the court record.

What does a final order mean?

An order is a decision rendered by a workers’ compensation judge. A final order is one that has not been appealed timely.

What do Findings & Award mean?

When you have a dispute brought before a workers’ compensation judge, the judge will issue a “Findings & Award”. The findings and award is simply the judge’s decision that he or she has made in your case, and often involves your rights to benefits or payments. The findings and award often becomes the final order of the court unless it is timely appealed.

https://www.dir.ca.gov/t8/10165_5.html

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