Injuries Occuring at Work: Worker's Compensation

INJURIES OCCURRING AT WORK: WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

Workers’ compensation comes into play when a person is injured at work, and the injury results in occupational disability or death. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act (hereinafter “ the Act”), an employer is liable for any injury sustained by his or her employees arising out of and in the course of the employment, and for the death of any employee if the injury proximately causes death. Labor Code Sec. 3600(a) The workers’ compensation system reimburses or provides required medical treatment to cure or relieve the effects of the work-related injury. Physical and emotional injuries may be compensated for providing they are disabling. The purpose of the Act is to compensate for a worker’s diminished ability to compete in the labor market.

The liability imposed by the Act on an employer is not based on any act or omission—an employer is liable without regard to negligence. A workers’ compensation claim made under the Act must meet two requirements: 1) the claim must be based on an employment relationship covered by the Act, and 2) the claim must involve an injury that occurred in the course and arose out of the employment.

The requirements to present a workers’ compensation claim raises the question of what is considered an “employment relationship” under the Act. Under Labor Code Sec. 3357, an employment relationship is presumed. This presumption applies unless 1) the claimant provides services as an independent contractor, or 2) the claimant is expressly excluded from the Act by other provisions that apply to specific relationships.

Labor Code Sec. 3353 defines an independent contractor as “any person who renders service for a specified recompense for a specified result, under the control of his principal as to the result of his work only and not as to the means by which such result is accomplished.” Due to the statutory presumption of the existence of an employment relationship, the employer has the burden of showing that the claimant is an independent contractor and not an employee. The determination of whether one is an independent contractor is dependent on the facts of a particular claim. Many factors are considered, with an emphasis on the amount of control that an employer has on the claimant’s work. Generally speaking, the more control an employer has of the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired, the more likely a determination will be made that a claimant is an employee.

It is important to note that under the Act, recovery of statutory benefits is an injured person’s sole remedy against his employer. Labor Code Sec. 3601(a). However, an injured party may seek tort damages from persons with whom he has no employment relationship. For example, a delivery truck driver who is injured in an auto accident while making a delivery may seek recovery under workers’ compensation against his employer, as well as initiate a civil action against the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident.

If you were involved in an accident under similar circumstances such as those described hereinabove, it is advised that you consult with an experienced attorney to get maximum recovery.

Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice. The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, P.C. This article is not a solicitation.

Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes was President of the Philippine American Bar Association for 2005. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Reyes is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration. He has extensive CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, P.C. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail kureyeslaw@gmail.com; visit at www.kenreyeslaw.com

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