Migrant and seasonal farmworkers are part of the backbone of California's economy -- and many of those workers are immigrants. While many states (about half) don't provide workers' compensation protection for seasonal agricultural workers, California does -- even to immigrants.
Police officers, firefighters and other first responders are often confronted with terrifying situations and horrifying scenes involving injured people. Ultimately, exposure to that kind of trauma can have a negative psychological effect on first responders that leads to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental conditions like anxiety and depression.
Most residents of Stockton understand that they have rights to disability benefits under California's workers compensation program and under the federal Social Security Disability Benefits insurance. However, the differences between the two programs are significant, and understanding these differences can be the key to obtaining the maximum amount of benefits.
After suffering a workplace injury, illness or condition in Stockton and throughout California, the workers' compensation benefits process can be both intimidating and confusing. There are various aspects that should be understood from the start. One is how restrictions factor in. Workers who can get back to work for their employer after the injury should be aware that there are certain requirements based on whether they are deemed able to work with or without restrictions.
One of the most important terms in California employment law is "independent contractor." Many laws that require employers to provide certain benefits frequently contain exceptions for workers who are "independent contractors." Hence, many businesses try to classify their workers as independent contractors to avoid the cost of mandatory benefits. Two of the most important benefits that can be avoided by calling a worker an independent contractor are workers' compensation coverage and mandatory overtime pay. Many Stockton businessmen operate on the mistaken assumption that they can avoid providing benefits by simply labelling an employee or group of employees as independent contractors. In April, the California Supreme Court issued an opinion that provides a clear definition of independent contractor, and the effects of this ruling are now hitting the marketplace.
California employers are generally required to carry insurance that will pay any workers' compensation claims made by their employees, but what happens when a day worker is injured on the property of a person who does not carry such insurance? The California Court of Appeals answered that question in the case of a tree trimmer who was working for a contractor that did not have such insurance.
An unfortunate fact is that workers are injured, become ill or killed every year while on the job in California. Although California has a relatively low rate of workplace fatalities, there is still much that can be done to improve workplace safety. Preventable injury is the purview of the employer, along with state and federal regulators. As for workers, those who have been injured or become ill on the job can file a claim for workers' compensation to receive financial or medical assistance.
The last week of April, leading up to International Workers' Day, is known as Workers' Memorial Week. Worker's Memorial Week is an annual remembrance of individuals who were killed, hurt or suffered an illness while working at their jobs. Many such workers were injured while on the job in one of the industries that have infamous reputations for dangerous conditions. Nationwide, these types of work give rise to disproportionately large numbers of workers' compensation claims and job-related injuries.
As this blog has mentioned in the past, California's workers' compensation system is a broad "no fault" system, meaning that an employee who gets hurt on the job does not have to prove his or her employer was responsible for the injury or illness. Indeed, the employee may share some of the blame for the workplace injury and still have full access to workers' compensation benefits.
It is a sad fact that some Stockton, California residents will never recover fully from their workplace injuries. When this happens, workers are entitled to receive an additional workers' compensation benefit in order to compensate them for their ongoing inability to do the work they used to before their injury.