Seasonal workers do qualify for workers’ compensation, so long as they are classified as “employees” (as opposed to “independent contractors” or some other designation). If you meet this criterion, you could receive weekly checks for a portion of your lost wages, medical treatment, and even disability payments.
When Do Seasonal Workers Get Workers’ Comp?
If you are an employee who can prove that your injury or illness is a direct result of your employment, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in California. Examples of compensable workplace injuries include the following:
- You spend a large portion of every workday using the same tool in the same way. This causes you to develop a repetitive strain injury (RSI), such as tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
- You trip over a wire left across a hallway or walkway and break your rib as you hit the ground.
- You were exposed to toxic chemicals in the workplace and develop disabling symptoms as a result.
- The equipment you were using malfunctioned, causing you to suffer electrical burns.
When it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim, the only thing that matters is proving you are an employee who got hurt on the job. Under these conditions, you can qualify for benefits even if you:
- Only work part-time
- Are an undocumented immigrant
- Are an apprentice
- Are underage
- Are not in an industry typically thought of as “dangerous”
Workers’ Compensation for Seasonal Workers
Seasonal workers could qualify for workers’ compensation benefits such as:
Per the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), your employer’s insurance company often has the right to decide which doctor you see after a workplace injury. This doctor will:
- Assess your condition
- Tell you which treatments they feel will help you recover to the fullest extent possible
- Determine when and if you are fit to return to work
Whichever treatments your doctor recommends will be covered by workers’ compensation. If you wish to receive other treatments, you would have to get the insurer’s permission or pay for it out of pocket.
As a seasonal worker, you have a limited time to earn money at a particular job before the season ends. Any injury that forces you to stay home from work could have a catastrophic impact on your family’s finances.Fortunately, workers’ compensation benefits will pay you part of your regular salary for as long as you cannot work. How much you receive depends on how much you made pre-injury, what type of job you had, and other factors. A workers’ compensation lawyer can calculate what fair compensation may look like for you.
You could receive temporary disability (TD) or permanent disability (PD) benefits, depending on whether you ever recover from your injury.
Chapter 5 of a document published by the DWC states that you can receive temporary disability if:
- Your injury prevents you from working as much as you did before the .
- You had to spend at least one night in the hospital.
- Your employer cannot or will not offer you light-duty assignments as you recover.
Permanent disabilities, as explained in Chapter 7 of the same DWC document, are available to those who:
- Have a doctor’s statement saying that they will never completely recover from the injury and will continue to have medical problems stemming from it
- Have permanent “work restrictions” on the type and amount of labor they can perform
- Become disabled as a direct result of their workplace injury
Can Seasonal Workers Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Yes. Just like any other injured worker, seasonal workers have the right to hire an attorney to help them with their case. In fact, seasonal workers may benefit even more than other kinds of workers from hiring a lawyer, because calculating appropriate compensation for temporary employees can be complicated.
It is a workers’ compensation attorney’s job to make sure their client:
- Understands and takes full advantage of their right to benefits
- Does not have to navigate the claims or appeals process by themselves
- Is not taken advantage of by their employer or the insurance company
The sooner you hire a lawyer, the more they may be able to do for you, including:
- Addressing any concerns or questions you have about how to handle your case or how your case is progressing
- Filing your case within the prescribed deadlines
- Collecting all available evidence to prove your employment status and the extent of your injuries
- Communicating with all other parties involved in your case, including your employer’s insurance company and the administrative law judge assigned to rule on any disputes
- Negotiating with the insurer for enough benefits to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, disabling injuries, and any other losses covered under workers’ comp
- Appealing to the DWC if your claim is denied for any reason
Can Seasonal Workers Sue for Workplace Injuries?
With a few exceptions, employees in California cannot sue their employers for workplace injuries. However, if a third party—such as a supplier or a contractor—bears responsibility for the injury, you might be able to file a lawsuit against them.Suing a third party does not interfere with your right to collect workers’ compensation: you can receive both workers’ comp benefits and financial damages from an at-fault party. If you are considering filing a lawsuit, it is a good idea to find a lawyer who:
- Accepts both workers’ compensation and personal injury cases
- Has a proven track record of obtaining compensation through both lawsuits and workers’ comp claims
- Is willing to go to court on your behalf, if that becomes necessary
- Can address all of your questions about both types of cases to your satisfaction
Want Help With a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
KJT Law Group can file your claim, collect evidence to prove your need for benefits, and even communicate with your employer or their insurance company if disagreements arise. Contact or call us at (818) 507-8525 at any time. Seasonal workers do qualify for workers’ compensation, and we want to help you fight for the benefits you deserve.