Working in a fast-paced work environment can affect an employee’s physical and mental health. According to California’s Department of Industrial Relations, a work injury is a physical injury, illness, or mental suffering resulting from working at your job. It also includes any death resulting from work-related injuries and injuries due to a crime that happened at your workplace.
Most employers offer their employees workers’ comp insurance. However, the challenge is accessing these benefits due to a lengthy and complex process that will need the help of a San Francisco Bay Area workers’ compensation law firm.
Employers and their insurers only look after their bottom line. Therefore, proving that an injury happened while working becomes difficult, especially if they think they can dispute your account.
How Does an Employee Prove a Work-Related Injury?
If you’re an employee and want to claim a work injury in California, you have to prove that:
- You were at work when you got injured
- You were well engaged in activities that fit the description “work-related activities”
- You actually suffered an injury
Most injures can be categorized as work injuries. You only have to show that your employment is the main reason you got exposed to your injury. A good test is to ask yourself, “without your job, would you have been injured?”
California’s workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system. It has a lower standard than personal injury litigation, where you have to show negligence or show your employer was at fault.
What Evidence Do I Need to Prove My Injury Is Work-Related?
Evidence is critical when trying to prove your Bay Area workers’ compensation claim. You can gather several pieces of evidence immediately after your work injury. Some of them include:
- Photographs of your injuries and scene of the accident
- Records showing you were clocked in when the accident occurred
- Witness reports
- Doctor’s reports
- Maintenance reports of equipment related to the accident
- Your formal report or anyone else’s to your employer
Even with evidence, you should still expect your employer and their insurer to undermine your claim. Work closely with your San Rafael workers’ compensation attorney to protect your rights.
Can I Prove Stress-Related Injuries at Work?
Many people don’t realize that California workers’ comp laws recognize stress as a work injury. When an employee feels stressed from a job, is fatigued, depressed, anxious, and struggles with insomnia due to their job, they can always pursue workers’ comp benefits.
However, for such a claim to prevail, you should meet some requirements outlined in California Labor Code Section 3208.3. The California courts understand that stress can be caused at work and even outside work.
California requires you to have worked for that particular employer for at least six months before filing a stress-related workers’ comp claim. Besides, job stress must be the predominant factor causing the psychological condition (at least 51%).
Factors Causing Work-Related Stress
While factors contributing to stress depend on individuals, there are general principles that the courts consider in California. They are:
- A hostile work environment that is rife with retaliation, discrimination, and harassment
- Violent and abusive managers, supervisors, or employer
- Harsh work requirements like tight deadlines and work overload
Your health care workers’ compensation lawyer in Marin County will help you determine if other circumstances qualify as stress-related work injuries
What If I Suffered Cumulative Injuries While Working?
Some injuries are cumulative and happen over some time. Repetitive stress injury can contribute to a more severe injury in the long run. For instance, exposure to toxic substances may or may not cause injuries in a single exposure, but repeated exposures can cause serious damages.
The best way to prove a cumulative injury at work is by explaining your work duties to a medical professional. That way, you may be able to link the cause of the injury at work and nowhere else. Still, it can be trickier to prove a cumulative injury than a single accident event. Claims administrators are more likely to deny you damages without the representation of a San Rafael workers’ compensation lawyer.
What Defenses Might My Employer Use to Say My Injuries Weren’t Work-Related?
California employers and their insurers use a great deal of energy and money to discredit your claim by scrutinizing your life. They can do this by saying that:
- You were intoxicated during the accident
- You were present at your workplace, but you weren’t working
- You took too long to report the accident
- You failed to use protocol when handling equipment
- Your injury was linked to a preexisting condition
- You intentionally self-inflicted the injury
- You were injured while committing a felony
There are several ways to counter such defenses, but you’ll need evidence. An experienced workers’ comp lawyer near you can help you gather evidence to build a strong case and battle any deceptive defenses.
What Should I Do When Injured On My Job?
After an accident, it’s normal for things to appear hazy. But if you can remember, take these steps, and you’ll improve your chances of pursuing your work injury benefits:
- Call for help from coworkers who’ll later be witnesses
- Call 911 if you have severe injuries – and get checked
- If you are able, gather evidence by taking pictures right away
- Formally report the accident to your employer
- Take your doctor’s instructions seriously
- Keep safe any receipts ad documents related to your accident like medical bills, accident reports, etc.
Learn Your Legal Options Following a California Work Injury
Get legal advice and increase the chances of proving that your injuries are work-related. Your lawyer should be able to evaluate the value of your claim and build a strategy on how to proceed with your workers’ comp claim in the Bay Area.
We understand that recovering from an injury is a difficult time, especially if an employer you’ve worked hard for years is making it more stressful for you. Don’t face this alone. Talk to a workers’ comp lawyer today.