Workers’ compensation is an important benefit that many workers across the nation rely on. There is a good reason for this: workers’ compensation can provide valuable benefits that may assist an employee through difficult times if they have a work-related injury or illness. In California, all employees have a right to receive workers’ compensation as the law mandates all employers to carry the proper insurance. However, even though all employees do have the right to receive workers’ compensation, the rules and details may differ depending on your job. Public employees in California may be able to receive unique forms of workers’ compensation. This class of employees consists of a wide array of occupations, such as judges, police officers, firefighters, public school teachers, and more. This includes any worker who is employed by a governmental agency or system. A majority of these workers may be able to receive standard workers’ compensation in California. However, there are a few occupations in which employees might receive special forms of workers’ compensation. For law enforcement employees and firefighters, they may receive unique benefits and even lower standards of proof in order to receive benefits.
Because of these special criteria, workers’ compensation can be confusing. Specifically, when it comes to determining whether or not you are eligible to receive compensation, or figuring out how to file for compensation. Receiving the correct information is critical. At Workers Compensation Attorney Law Firm, we are trained in this area of law, and we may be able to guide you with matters related to workers’ compensation—no matter what field of work you do. For public employees in Los Angeles, our attorneys can lend their expertise in this area so that you can receive the compensation you deserve. As a public employee, you may be able to receive special workers’ compensation benefits, and you should receive any and all benefits you are eligible to receive.
Who is Considered a Public Employee?
A public employee is considered to be any worker who is employed by a government agency or system. This can be at any level of government: federal, state, or local. These employees may sometimes be referred to as public servants since they help in providing vital services to the public. Common types of public servant professions include police officers, safety officers, firefighters, judges, and other professions where workers help to keep the government functioning properly. There are many different types of public servant jobs throughout California, and this may include any employee who works for a governmental agency at any capacity.
Just like any other employee in the state of California, most public employees have a lawful right to be awarded workers’ compensation should they sustain an injury or develop an illness as a result of their work.
Can Public Employees Receive Workers’ Compensation?
In California, all employees, no matter their profession or field of work, are entitled to workers’ compensation under California Labor Code Section 3200. This indicates that when a worker has been injured or has become ill in some way as a result of their job, they may be able to receive benefits to help recover. Usually, these benefits will be provided by insurance that your employer carries for their employees. All employers with one or more employees are required to carry this insurance by law. If not, they may be charged with a criminal offense in California. Also, they are required to inform you about any and all information regarding their workers’ compensation insurance and the proper process you need to follow when filing a claim.
- Eugene is a clerk in the county sheriff’s office. One day, while going back and forth between his desk and his boss’ office, he trips and falls. As a result, he breaks his arm. Under workers’ compensation, the medical expenses for this injury are covered.
A large portion of public employees is entitled to workers’ compensation in California. Within this class of employees, however, there are a couple of professions and employees who may receive different benefits based upon their job. Besides this group, public employees may receive similar workers’ compensation benefits as any other employee in the private sector.
For these employees, workers’ compensation benefits may include:
- Coverage for medical expenses
- Temporary disability (TD)
- Permanent disability (PD)
- Supplemental job displacement benefits
- Death benefits
These benefits may only be received if you have been injured on the job or have become ill as a result of your work. If this is the case, you may file a claim with the workers’ compensation insurance in order to receive the proper benefits for your situation. If you have been injured, you should report it to your employer right away to ensure that you receive these benefits in a timely manner.
The most basic benefit under workers’ compensation is coverage for medical expenses. If approved for workers’ compensation, any medical bills you have received may be covered by the insurance. This can include doctor bills, hospital bills, prescriptions, surgeries, therapies, and any other form of treatment that is necessary to treat the injury or illness.
If your injury or illness is more serious and it requires you to stop working you might be awarded either temporary or permanent disability depending on the severity and details. Usually, these benefits are given to employees who are unable to return to work as a result of the injury or illness. Along with coverage for necessary medical services, these benefits may provide payments to compensate for lost wages (however, the payments will be about two-thirds of your regular wages). If your doctor says you cannot work for a period of time, you may start receiving temporary disability. These payments will last until you have recovered enough to return to work. If your injury or illness prevents you from ever returning to your job, you may start receiving permanent disability benefits.
If you have recovered from your injury or illness, but you are physically unable to go back to work at your old job, you might receive supplemental job displacement benefits (SJDB). This benefit will provide workers with financial assistance while searching for a new job. It may cover any necessary skill learning or training required for a new occupation.
Lastly, if the work-related injury or illness has caused a worker to die, death benefits may be received by their surviving dependents. With this form of workers’ compensation benefit, your spouse, children, or any other dependents may receive a specified amount of money if you have passed away due to the work-related injury or illness. Also, they may receive coverage for expenses relating to funeral or burial costs. The amount of money they receive will vary depending on the number of dependents, and on the workers’ compensation policy carried by your employer.
Most employees in the state of California are guaranteed these workers’ compensation benefits—even most public employees. However, there are a couple of groups of public employees who may receive more specialized workers’ compensation. These include law enforcement officers and firefighters who are employed by government run agencies. These employees may receive unique benefits due to the dangerous and high-risk nature of their occupations.
Law Enforcement Officers & Firefighters
For law enforcement officers and firefighters in California, they may be able to receive special forms of workers’ compensation. Due to the nature of their jobs, these employees are at higher risk of receiving work-related injuries. For example, a police officer may be injured in a shoot-out on the job, or a firefighter may sustain serious burns while putting out fires. Because of this, they can receive special benefits meant to compensate for the facts of their employment.
Presumption of Injury
Because of the high-risk nature of their employment, law enforcement officers and firefighters do not have to prove that certain types of injuries are work-related. Under California Labor Code Sections 3212 – 31212, these injuries and conditions include:
- Hernia, and
- Heart trouble.
If you are an active duty law enforcement officer or firefighter in California and you have been diagnosed with one of the above conditions, then it will be assumed that it was a result of your work. This is different from other workers who would have to show proof that these injuries or conditions were a result of their employment.
Under this form of benefit, you would be able to receive compensation for any necessary medical procedures or treatments for your condition. Since these would be considered to be work-related, any and all medical bills, prescriptions, or doctor visits will be covered by workers’ compensation.
Leave of Absence Benefits
For public employees, such as law enforcement workers and firefighters, they are given different benefits under California law. As described under California Labor Code Section 4800, if any person considered within this class of employee becomes disabled due to an injury, they are entitled to up to one (1) year of salary instead of temporary disability benefits. This is different from standard compensation regulation. Temporary disability only provides a fraction of lost wages incurred during the recovery period. So, for these employees, they are able to retain their regular wages during their recovery period.
This type of benefit may be added on top of coverage for any medical expenses caused by the injury or illness as often associated with workers’ compensation.
- Joe is an active duty firefighter. One day he sustains a disabling injury while on the job, and he is unable to go back to work for at least four months. Since he is a public employee and a firefighter, he may continue to receive his full pay during his recovery period.
This benefit only applies to active law enforcement officials and firefighters in the state of California. If you are not one of these, then you may only be eligible to receive standard temporary disability benefits during your recovery. This means you may only receive two-thirds of your regular wages. Also, once you have resigned, retired, or have been dismissed from an active duty position, you will no longer receive these benefits.
However, it should be known that not all employees who work within law enforcement agencies may not receive this type of benefits. This would include employees such as clerks, telephone operators, secretaries, stenographers, machinists, and mechanics. These employers are at lower risk when it comes to injuries. Leave of absence benefits is mainly a way to compensate those workers who are at high risk of sustaining injuries while on the job—like police officers or firefighters.
Disability Retirement Benefits for Public Employees
If a public employee has become disabled due to an injury or illness, then they may be able to receive disability retirement in California. If a public employee has become disabled to a work-related injury or illness, then they may be able to receive an industrial disability retirement. However, with this benefit, you must be a part of the California Public Employees Retirement System or CalPERS. In both cases, the employee’s disability has left them unable to return to work. If you have been approved to receive this form of benefit, then you may receive monthly payments until you have recovered from your injury or illness, or for the rest of your life. However, it must be noted that there are some exceptions in the case of this benefit and you should contact an attorney or workers’ compensation professional to see if you are eligible.
It is critical to note that industrial disability retirement benefits may only apply to certain public employees in California. These include peace officers, firefighters, patrol officers, local and state safety officers, and other state employees. Other public employees may be eligible under disability retirement.
Possible benefits under this program include:
- Monthly payments until you recover or for the rest of your life
- Coverage for any and all medical expenses necessitated by the injury or illness.
Lastly, if you are a ‘patrol member’ of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and work in the Bargaining Unit 5, you may be eligible to receive enhanced benefits. Certain requirements include that the employee sustained a serious bodily injury during a single incident and the employee is unable to do their job.
How to Apply for These Benefits
Before you apply for these types of benefits, you should know that you may only apply in certain situations. These include while you still are working, while you are absent due to military service, within four (4) months of working, while on an approved leave of absence, and if you have been physically or mentally incapacitated from the last date of work to the application date.
When applying for this type of benefit, there are certain steps you must take. You may apply for disability retirement on your own, or someone may do it for you like an employer and an individual with the power of attorney. You should apply as soon as you believe that you cannot perform your job’s duties due to an injury or illness that is either permanent, will last for more than twelve (12) consecutive months, or will end in death. Also, you must be registered as a part of CalPERS in order to receive this benefit.
When applying, you should begin by filling out and submitting the proper forms. Also, your employer, your doctor or physician, and your workers’ compensation carrier will have to fill out and submit forms as well to ensure the validity of your claim. You will also have to submit the proper documents required by the program. You have twenty-one (21) days to ensure that all of the proper forms and documents are filled out and submitted. If not, your application may be canceled, and you will have to start again.
The steps in the process for application include:
- Submitting an application with proper documents;
- Review of your application;
- Physical examination if necessary; and,
- A decision from CalPERS will be received.
If you want assistance with figuring out if you are eligible to receive benefits under this program or how to apply, a workers’ compensation attorney can help you and answer your questions if you have any.
For public employees, workers’ compensation may include death benefits as well. Under the CalPERS program, certain public employees may be able to receive special death benefits should they pass due to an injury or serious illness.
Similar to more standard death benefits under workers’ compensation, this benefit is often paid towards a surviving dependent, or dependents, such as a spouse or children. Usually, they may receive a percentage of the deceased’s salary in monthly payments as a form of compensation.
Under workers’ compensation, death benefits usually include financial coverage for expenses related to funerals and a specified amount of financial compensation depending on the number of dependents.
As a member of CalPERS, you may not be eligible to receive the standard workers’ compensation death benefits as ensured under California law. You will only receive the standard $1,000 burial and funeral expenses. However, your dependents may be compensated for the difference if the workers’ compensation benefits are greater than those under the CalPERS program.
- Brian’s wife was a police officer who died in the line of duty. Because of this, Brian is eligible to receive death benefits. Under standard workers’ compensation, he would receive roughly $100,000 plus funeral expenses. However, under CalPERS, Brian is eligible to receive a percentage of his wife’s salary each month for the rest of his life—an option where he would receive more compensation.
Another major difference between benefits under CalPERS and the standard workers’ compensation is that CalPERS will provide monthly payments to the employee’s dependent for the rest of their lives. This monthly payment will be a percentage of the employee’s salary payment. Under standard workers’ compensation benefits, the dependents may only receive a specified amount of money.
Also, as described under California Government Code Section 22820, should a public employee die while in active duty, his or her dependents are eligible to apply to receive the same benefits they would have received under that employee.
Finding an Excellent Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Near Me
Worker compensation provides a great safety net to employees who have been injured or stricken with an illness while on the job. It can also provide well-needed support during stressful times. In California, all workers have the right to workers’ compensation, and all employers are mandated by law to provide it. However, some employees within the state may receive special types of compensation benefits. This includes public employees. Some public employees, such as police officers, firefighters, and more, may be eligible to receive special benefits under state laws and under certain programs. Some of the employees may face more danger will working; thus, special benefits are set to compensate for the potential dangers and risks they may face every day. Under programs, like the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), these employees may receive special benefits meant to provide certain assistance if they have sustained any disabling injuries or illness. Also, families may receive benefits should an employee die while actively working.
Just like with standard workers’ compensation practices, Workers Compensation Attorney Law Firm can aide public employees in determining what benefits they may receive. Due to their status, they may receive special and enhanced benefits, so it is critical that they receive any and all benefits available to them. With a staff of professionals who specialize in the area of workers’ compensation, we look over your case and determine what you can receive. You should not be denied your proper compensation. After all, workers’ compensation is a right in California. If you are a public employee in Los Angeles and you need help with workers’ compensation, call our Los Angeles work injury lawyer at 310-956-4277. We want to make sure that you are awarded the proper compensation and benefits you deserve no matter what your situation may be. By reaching out to our team, we can start reviewing your situation and fighting for you as soon as possible.