How Much Workers Compensation Will I Get?

The California workers’ compensation system is intended to provide injured workers with medical treatment and a small amount of money to live on until they are able to return to work. It is called a “no-fault” system, because an employee who was injured at work is entitled to benefits, regardless of who was at fault for the accident or illness.

The basic benefits provided by California workers’ compensation law are as follows:

  1. All medical treatment necessary to cure or relieve the effects of your industrial injury, if necessary, for the rest of your life.
  2. Temporary disability payments until you are able to return to work (or your injury has stabilized) – usually not longer than 24 months.
  3. Permanent disability payments if you have lasting pain or limitations caused by your injuries and you further medical treatment is not likely to improve your condition over the next year.
    Death benefits are available to dependents of workers who died in the course of their employment, and may be available to workers who later die from their work injuries within 240 weeks of the injury.

Workers Comp Medical Treatment Benefits

Your workers compensation benefits must pay for all medical treatment necessary to cure or relieve the effects of your workplace injury. This includes doctor’s bills, hospital bills, prescription medications, and medical equipment. It also includes up to 24 chiropractic sessions and 24 visits to a physical therapist for any rehabilitation, if necessary.

Until your employer’s workers comp insurance company accepts or denies your claim, it is liable for paying up to $10,000 of your medical costs, even if they eventually reject your claim. However, once your claim is approved they are responsible to pay for your medical treatments related to the injury for as long as you have the condition – even for the rest of your life.

Workers Comp Temporary Disability Benefits

“Temporary disability” payments are intended to replace some of your wages during the initial time period that you are disabled (up to 2 years). You are eligible for temporary disability benefits if you miss three days of work or more due to a work related injury or illness.

In California your temporary disability payment will be two-thirds of your average weekly wages – up to a maximum of $1,128.43 per week (for 2016). 

Workers Comp Permanent Disability Benefits

If you’re determined to be permanently unable to return to your job, or you have any impairment that doctors don’t think you’ll recover further in the next year, you are entitled to a weekly permanent disability benefit.

In California your temporary disability payment will be two-thirds of your average weekly wages – up to a maximum of $290 per week (for 2016). 

Depending on the seriousness of your injuries, you will receive permanent disability payments for anywhere from three to 99 weeks. The length of time is determined by the percentage of your permanent disability.

In some cases, you can also settle your workers’ comp claim so that all of your weekly permanent disability payments are rolled into one lump sum.

Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit

If you don’t return to work with your employer within 60 days of being cut off temporary disability – AND if your employer doesn’t offer you alternative or modified work – you are eligible for the “supplemental job displacement benefit”. This is a  voucher for education-related training (including tuition, books, & school fees) worth $6,000.

This is a great opportunity to get some additional education or training, so you can re-enter the work field, so DO NOT forget to ask for this!

Death Benefits

Surviving dependents (a spouse, minor or disabled child, or parent) of an employee that died due to a work-related injury, is entitled to a death benefit.

The death benefit is a lump sum, ranging from $250,000 to $320,000.

Minor children are also entitled to a weekly death benefit until they turn 18. The weekly death benefit amount is the same amount as temporary disability weekly payment, above.

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