Caregiver benefits under workers’ compensation depend on your position. If you work as a caregiver and were injured on the job, you could receive benefits for lost wages and medical care.
If you are the relative of an injured worker and have had to take time off to care for them, you could recover an hourly wage for the time you spend making sure your loved one receives the care they need.
Who Counts as a Caregiver?
When discussing caregivers and workers’ compensation benefits, there are two different populations to consider. These are:
Loved Ones Serving as Caregivers
For example, say that your spouse suffers a severe workplace injury, but they do not qualify to have a professional caregiver (e.g., a home nurse) come and take care of them during the day.
In this situation, you, as the injured worker’s spouse, might decide to take time off from your own job to help them move around the house, change their bandages, dress and bathe, and go to doctor’s appointments.
Home health aides, home nurses, and similar professions come with a number of risk factors, including:
- Slipping or tripping and falling in a patient’s house, especially if they leave hazards lying around and do not warn you about them
- Exposure to dangerous substances (blood) or contagious diseases
- Exposure to dangerous equipment, such as sharp objects (needles) and heavy equipment (wheelchairs)
If you suffer any kind of on-the-job injury, then, as an employee in California, you are eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits under LAB § 3700.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Caregivers
Caregiver benefits under workers’ compensation are similar, if not identical, to the benefits available to other kinds of workers. This includes money for:
- Lost wages: For as long as you are unable to work the same hours you did before, you can receive a percentage of your normal weekly income.
- Medical care: Your doctor will recommend certain treatments for you based on your condition. Workers’ comp insurance should cover the cost of these treatments.
- Retraining: For some people, being injured means they can never go back to their old jobs. If you are not able to be a caregiver any longer, the insurer will give you a voucher to cover some of the cost of retraining for a new position.
If you are caring for an injured loved one, you can receive compensation for your labor. The amount you receive may depend on how long you have to stay home from work to take care of your loved one.
Applying for Workers’ Comp as a Caregiver
How you can apply for workers’ comp as a caregiver depends on which of the above categories you fall into.
If you are a professional caregiver, you can receive benefits by following these steps:
- Get emergency treatment, if necessary
- Report the injury to your employer
- Go see a doctor for a diagnosis if you did not require emergency care
- Make sure your employer has filed a claim with their insurer or file the claim yourself
If you are the relative of an injured worker, talk to a workers’ comp lawyer about the best way to seek compensation from the insurer. Many insurers will not tell you up front about this kind of benefit, so it would be helpful if you hired a legal representative who can keep you fully informed of your rights.
Getting Workers’ Compensation Is Not Always Easy
It is important to remember that the insurance company may deny you benefits. This does not necessarily mean your claim is invalid: it just means that they want to save themselves money and will do what they can to avoid paying out, even to deserving applicants.
If the insurer denies your claim, you can hire a workers’ comp attorney if you have not already done so. The sooner you get legal help, the sooner your representative can:
- Start doing all of the paperwork required for your case and submitting it to the required parties within specified deadlines
- Meet with other involved parties, including the insurer’s representatives, on your behalf
- Give you advice on how to handle your case and help you figure out how much compensation you can recover for your injuries
- Answer any questions you have about the claims or appeal process, ensuring you understand your rights enough to take full advantage of them
Whether it was you or someone you love who was injured on the job, your family has taken a tremendous hit, both emotionally and physically. Trying to handle a workers’ compensation case independently would add an unnecessary burden to your load.
Workers’ comp attorneys perform all of the legal tasks associated with filing a claim. Their clients do not have to worry about representing themselves in front of the insurance company, the employer, or any other party.
The Cost of a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Due to the workplace injury, you and your family may already be struggling financially. Why spend money on a workers’ compensation lawyer when they cannot guarantee a positive result?
Many attorneys can help you mitigate legal costs by accepting a contingency fee. You would only have to pay the attorney for their services if and when you obtain compensation.
Even before you hire a law firm, they can save you time and money by offering a case assessment over the phone. This assessment is typically:
- Free of charge
- Free of obligation—you do not have to promise to hire the firm to receive it
- Very fast, often only a few minutes in length
- Completely confidential
As a caregiver, you are used to taking care of others. Now, you can let a workers’ compensation lawyer take care of you as you seek fair reimbursement for your losses.
Are You Entitled to Recover Workers’ Compensation?
Figuring out if you are legally entitled to receive workers’ comp—and what caregiver benefits under workers’ compensation are—can be difficult when you are preoccupied with your injuries. KJT Law Group can help you navigate workers’ comp and get the benefits you deserve. Call (818) 507-8525 for a free consultation today.