“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” -Yogi Berra
The workers’ compensation system has been around in California since the early part of the 19th century. Interestingly, the forerunner of all workers’ compensation systems originated in Germany in 1884. California eventually enacted the Workers’ Compensation Insurance and Safety Act of 1917.
To be brutally frank, the comp system is a down and dirty mechanism to prevent you from suing your employer for their negligence. In return, your employer provides some significant benefits to help you get back in the saddle. These benefits are nothing to scoff at; in some situations, they can go into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. No one gets rich; barely enough money is provided to help you squeeze by while you are recovering. Medical treatment is now provided on an almost MediCal basis. If you approach the process intelligently, however, you can keep food on the table and a roof over your head during the process.
Unfortunately, the modern workers’ compensation system has become a wilderness of red tape. You need a sober understanding of where you are going, the system’s benefits (and where they fall short), how to quickly obtain those benefits, and where else to look for help. You also need a plan.
The secret to surviving the workers’ compensation system is to plot an efficient course through this land of law, procedure, and medical evidence. Failure to do so gets you stuck in “Comp Hell” (a place you definitely don’t want to be). If you have never been this way before, you are at a distinct disadvantage. You need to educate yourself and pick a good path.
• Get the medical treatment you need to get back on your feet.
• Receive the maximum temporary disability (TD) benefit while you are recovering.
• Make sure you get the maximum dollar value for your permanent disability (PD).
• Take full advantage of benefits from other governmental programs.
• Settle your claim to provide for your future medical needs or cash out your claim by “Compromise and Release” (C&R) and be finished with the comp system.