Apprentices are often required to have workers’ compensation insurance. Whether you receive such benefits after a workplace accident may depend on the terms of your contract and whether your employer accepts your claim for benefits.If you have doubts or concerns about your eligibility for workers’ compensation payments, you can always consult an attorney who has dealt with such cases before. They can tell you everything you need to know and fight your case on your behalf.
Who Gets Workers’ Compensation
According to LAB § 3700, “every employer except the state” must provide its employees with workers’ comp benefits. All employees are eligible for these benefits, even if they:
- Are underage
- Do not work full-time
- Are undocumented
- Are apprentices
- Were fired for legitimate reasons after the injury occurred
An employee may receive workers’ comp benefits if they are injured while on the job. Compensable injuries under California state law include:
- Acute injuries, such as a dislocated shoulder or a concussion
- Repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Occupational illnesses, such as cancer or asbestosis
- Mental illnesses, particularly those related to a physical workplace injury
If you fit into any of these occupational and injury categories, you could get workers’ comp benefits if you apply for them in accordance with state laws and regulations. Common mistakes made while filing for workers’ comp include:
- Not reporting the injury to your employer or their insurer on time
- Not seeing an approved doctor or not listening to your doctor’s instructions
- Not hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer to explain your full rights
Who Does Not Get Workers’ Compensation
Anyone who causes their own injury through avoidable, obviously reckless behavior may not be able to recover benefits. Examples of such behavior include:
- Drinking or using illegal drugs while on the job
- Threatening another employee with a piece of dangerous equipment
- “Playing around” in or near dangerous equipment
In addition, only workers who are legally classified as “employees” can get workers’ comp benefits. Independent contractors are not entitled to receive such benefits as a general rule.Before seeking benefits, you can have a workers’ compensation attorney go over your contract to see whether you are classified as an employee or a contractor. Knowing this distinction can better prepare you to counter any claims your employer makes regarding your status.
What Is an Apprentice?
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) states that an apprenticeship is different from a typical employment situation in that employers get the chance to personally “develop and prepare” their workers by training them in specific areas and skill sets.Apprentices benefit from this arrangement because they get paid while receiving practical work experience and training. However, this also means that they must endure the same risks as regular employees. These risks depend on what industry you are in but may include:
- Exposure to toxic chemicals or extreme temperatures
- Malfunctioning or poorly maintained equipment
- Rigorous and repetitive physical activity that can lead to muscle strains or other injuries
- Slippery walkways or walkways with trip hazards such as unsecured wires
This is why, just like any other employee, apprentices are required to have workers’ compensation, and they deserve benefits when they suffer an injury or contract an illness while on the job.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Apprentices
Workers’ compensation reimburses employees for money they lose if they are injured in the workplace. “Workplace accidents” can include any number of events, including but not limited to:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Accidents involving tools or machinery
- Falls from heights
- Slip and fall accidents
- Fires or explosions
As long as your accident took place as you were fulfilling your duties as an apprentice, your employer’s workers’ compensation will have to pay you for what your injury has cost you, including:
- A percentage of your weekly wages for as long as you are unable to return to your old position
- All of the treatments your doctor has decided are necessary for you to make the fullest possible recovery
- Educational or retraining expenses if you cannot return to your old job and need to find new work
If an apprentice passes away due to workplace injuries, their surviving relatives may be able to collect death benefits. This compensation includes money for funeral expenses and for the loss of their loved one’s income.
What If Your Employer Refuses Your Workers’ Compensation?
Apprentices are entitled to recover workers’ compensation payments, but some employers may try to get out of paying for coverage or deny your claim by saying the worker is ineligible for some reason. They may say you:
- Are a contractor, not an employee (even if your contract says otherwise)
- Caused the accident by behaving in a deliberately careless or reckless manner
- Are trying to blame a non-work-related injury on a workplace incident
As upsetting and frustrating as it is to have your claim denied, you do not have to accept the insurer’s judgment without a fight. The California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) allows workers to dispute a denial by:
- Having another doctor reexamine you
- Filing a complaint with the DWC
- Attending a hearing in front of an administrative law judge, who will decide whether or not to uphold the denial
Should Apprentices Hire a Workers’ Comp Lawyer?
Anyone who sustains an injury on the job may want to consider hiring a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Why? The workers’ comp process can be long and challenging, especially if:
- Your employer or their insurer disputes your claim.
- You are preoccupied with receiving treatment, coping with pain, or trying to return to work.
- You have no prior experience with the workers’ compensation process.
Instead of spending months or even years trying to resolve your case alone, a law firm can do all that hard work for you.
Learn More About Apprentices and Workers’ Compensation
KJT Law Group wants to ensure that all California workers receive the workers’ compensation benefits they need. That includes apprentices, as apprentices are required to have workers’ compensation in many cases. To learn more about your rights, call our office at (818) 507-8525 and get a free case review today.