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Are Seasonal Workers Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

California requires employers to offer workers’ compensation benefits to seasonal employees. Workers’ compensation eligibility does not require the employee to work all 12 months of the year. If your boss denies your workers’ comp claim because you are a seasonal employee, the denial is likely illegal. 

Workers’ compensation claims of seasonal workers can, however, get denied for other reasons, just like any other employee. Also, workers’ compensation claims with seasonal employees get complicated when the worker gets the position through a temporary employment agency. A lawyer from KJT Law Group can explain your rights. 

Common Workers’ Compensation Issues for Seasonal Employees

Many seasonal employees who get hurt on the job have no problems getting benefits. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone. You could have these issues while seeking benefits: 

Problems With the Liable Party

If you were a full-time worker, you could seek coverage from your employer’s insurance provider. Liability in this case shouldn’t get complicated. However, matters change if you’re a seasonal employee. Your employer may argue that they don’t employ you directly––a temp agency does. 

So, the temp agency’s insurer should cover your losses. While issues regarding liability can get complicated, this shouldn’t prevent you from getting compensated. Again, a lawyer from our team can review your options and seek financial justice. 

Problems With How Much You’re Owed

Calculating the amount and duration of temporary or permanent disability benefits is another common challenge for seasonal workers. That’s because you may not have a regular weekly wage on which the insurer can base your benefits. Still, this shouldn’t exclude you from getting covered. 

If you got hurt on the job as a seasonal employee, and your boss denies or limits your workers’ compensation benefits, you can dispute the denial or limitation of benefits. 

How to Verify Your Employer’s Workers’ Compensation Coverage

If you suspect that your boss might actually carry workers’ compensation insurance despite their statement to the contrary, you can check for yourself online. The Workers’ Compensation Coverage Inquiry website is a quick way to find out whether your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance and the name of their insurance company. The carrier can verify that the policy covers seasonal workers.

Some companies are self-insured for workers’ compensation claims. Self-Insured employers must register with the Office of Self-Insurance Plans (OSIP) and post security deposits to cover claims of injured workers. You can look up your employer on the OSIP website.

What if My Employer Doesn’t Offer Benefits to Seasonal Workers?

The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) says that injured workers can seek workers’ compensation benefits, even if their employer did not have the mandated coverage. 

The Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF) is a safety net that can help injured workers when their employer does not carry the workers’ compensation insurance required under California law. The employee will have to follow some special procedures in this situation––but a lawyer can help you with them. 

You’re Entitled to These Benefits as an Injured Seasonal Employee

Seasonal employees are supposed to enjoy most, if not all, of the benefits of the workers’ compensation program in our state. Whether you have coverage under the temporary employment agency’s policy or the employer’s policy, the standard workers’ compensation benefits include the following:

Medical Care

The California workers’ compensation program pays for the medical treatment injured workers need to get well and get back to work. The healthcare provider should direct bill the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, not the injured worker. You should not have to pay a deductible or co-pay for this medical care.

Temporary Total Disability

This benefit can help replace some of your lost wages if you cannot work at all while recuperating from your wounds and medical procedures. The standard rate is two-thirds of the worker’s regular gross (pre-tax) wages, but there are limits. Also, a worker who can continue earning their usual paychecks while recuperating will not be eligible for temporary total disability benefits because they have not lost any wages.

Temporary Partial Disability

You could return to work eventually but with restrictions, like fewer hours per week or light duty. If you did not receive your regular income during this time, you could collect benefits to help cover two-thirds of the difference between your previous wages and your current, decreased wages. Just as with temporary total disability, there are limits to this benefit.

Permanent Disability

After you complete your prescribed medical treatment, you might still have problems from your illness or injury. If your doctor thinks that you will not get 100 percent better, you could receive a disability rating. Disability ratings get stated in percentages from 0 to 100 percent. Your permanent disability benefits will get calculated using several factors, including your previous wages and your disability rating.

Retraining Because of Job Displacement

When a worker has a permanent disability from a workplace injury and does not return to their former job after completing their medical treatment, they might need to get training or additional job skills to pursue a different job. Job displacement retraining benefits can provide vouchers to help pay for this. 

Death Benefits

When a worker dies from a covered injury or illness, the California workers’ compensation program can pay death benefits to eligible dependents, like a surviving spouse or children. If an employer wrongfully denies coverage for a seasonal employee, their dependents could challenge that decision.

There are some “hidden” workers’ compensation benefits that many people do not know about. For example, you are entitled to mileage reimbursement to drive to doctor appointments. If your medical treatments require multiple trips to the doctor and other appointments, the reimbursement for mileage could add up to a substantial sum.

Your Options if Your Employer Denies Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

It can be illegal and fraudulent for an employer to wrongfully deny a workers’ compensation claim. Be sure to keep a signed, dated copy of the written notice you gave to your employer. The employer might deny that they received these items within the time limits or that they received them at all.

You can talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer at KJT Law Group if you get hurt at work as a seasonal employee. To get started, reach out to us at (818) 507-8525.

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