Workers’ Compensation Disability Benefits Following Termination

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November 25, 2015
Edward Smith

Temporary California Workers’ Compensation Disability Benefits 

When you are injured at work, you need to seek the assistance of a doctor immediately. Do not wait to find out the status of your workers’ compensation claim or to haggle with your employer’s insurance company. Injuries and pain can be exacerbated when you do not seek medical care in a timely manner. Many of my clients stalled on seeing a doctor because they worried about how they would pay the medical bills. Did you know that in the state of California, the insurance provider is required to cover medical expenses up to $10,000 while it is still reviewing the viability of your workers’ compensation claim? Don’t wait to go to the hospital!

Temporary Disability Benefits

When you do see a doctor, you will tell the doctor what happened during the accident, where you feel pain, and how the injury has affected you (e.g. limited mobility). The doctor will then examine you. This examination could involve x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, and more. You may even be asked to make follow-up appointments with a variety of different specialists. When your condition is diagnosed, you will receive information from the doctor on treating that condition, including what steps to take next. Many injuries require weeks, months, and even years of treatment following an accident. In addition, your doctor will inform you of any limitations on your ability to return to work. The doctor may state you cannot return to work at all for a certain period of time or may clear you to return to work but only in a restricted manner. For instance, if you herniated a disc while lifting heavy equipment, the doctor may clear you to return to work but may order work restrictions such as no lifting. If your job is to lift items in a warehouse, you will have difficulty complying with these instructions. So what do you do?

When work restrictions are at play, one of two things generally happens: (1) the employer honors the work restrictions and gives you a modified job that allows you to recover, or (2) the employer cannot accommodate the work restrictions, meaning you cannot work. If the latter occurs, the employer is required by California law to pay temporary disability benefits. These benefits cover the wages you are losing as a result of your inability to work. However, if the employer is able to accommodate you (which is rare), no benefits are required.

Seeking Temporary Disability Benefits When You’ve Been Fired

Unfortunately, sometimes, accidents and termination coincide. If you were terminated for violating company policy and not due to your injury, you may run into some resistance from your employer regarding compensation for missed work. If you are terminated for cause, your employer may argue you are not eligible for temporary disability benefits because the employer would have accommodated your work restrictions had you remained with the company. You, on the other hand, argue that you were never offered accommodations prior to termination.

California workers’ compensation administrative law judges are split on this issue. Often times, they do award temporary disability payments to workers terminated for cause when the employer offers no proof of accommodations for work restrictions. In fact, if the injury is so severe that the employee cannot perform any of his work tasks and the employer hasn’t made any accommodations, the employee is entitled to total disability benefits.

Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Lawyer. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury at work, please call me at 916-921-6400  for free, friendly advice. Read more about us on our website,

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