Yes, workers’ compensation cases are public record in California but to a certain extent. If you filed a workers’ comp claim that went through the state’s workers’ compensation process or the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB), the fact that you had a comp case becomes public record. Your old workers’ compensation case could show up in a background check for a new employer.Your potential new employer is only supposed to access your workers’ comp records after they extend an offer of employment to you. They cannot rescind the job offer simply because you filed a workers’ compensation claim in the past. They are also restricted to the use of medical information only if your injury might affect your ability to perform your job.
What Someone Could See About Your California Workers’ Compensation Case
The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) provides an online tool to search for workers’ comp claims. The information is public, within limitations. You will have to identify yourself and disclose why you are requesting the information. You must also agree not to disclose the information to anyone who is not on the list of people entitled to it.
Labor Code Section 138.7 lists those persons as follows:
- A party to the workers’ compensation claim
- A law enforcement agency
- A district attorney’s office
- Another government agency
- Any person with a journalistic purpose
Bona fide researchers can access information about workers’ comp claims, but they cannot access “individually identifiable information” unless the researcher falls within an exception. The statute defines individually identifiable information as “any data concerning an injury or claim that is linked to a uniquely identifiable employee, employer, claims administrator, or any other person or entity.”
In addition, subject to some exceptions, persons, public entities, or private entities are not supposed to get individually identifiable information, but parties to the claim can usually access that data.
How Not Listing a Previous Employer on Your Job Application Could Hurt You
We understand that it might be tempting not to list a previous employer on a job application because you got hurt on the job there and filed a workers’ comp claim, but that decision could cost you the new job. The new employer might terminate you or rescind the job offer on the grounds that you falsified your job application.
How a Previous Workers’ Compensation Claim Could Hurt You in a Later Job
If your workers’ comp claim included findings of fraudulent activity, that information could follow you to later jobs and serve as grounds for termination or give a new employer a reason to rescind a job offer. Here are some examples that could be considered workers’ compensation fraud in California:
- If the claimant knowingly makes false statements of material facts in an attempt to get workers’ comp benefits. An example would be to get hurt at home and pretend to injure the same area the next day at work.
- Submitting a claim for workers’ compensation benefits for services that the person did not actually use. For example, submitting a request for mileage reimbursement for medical appointments that the worker did not attend.
- Making false statements about the extent of a medical condition, like saying that the injured person continues to suffer back pain even though the pain stopped months ago.
- Filing a claim for temporary total disability benefits while secretly working somewhere else for cash. An injured worker is only eligible for temporary total disability benefits if their injury makes them unable to work at all.
Quitting the job where you made the workers’ compensation claim might not make the fraud allegations go away. You should talk to a lawyer about disputing troublesome allegations in your claim. The employer could also be accused of workers’ compensation fraud. Lying to an injured worker about their eligibility for workers’ comp benefits or wrongfully denying benefits to an eligible employee constitute fraudulent acts.
Whether your workers’ comp case involved allegations of fraud by you or your employer, it is essential to try to set the record straight to clear your name and protect future job opportunities.
California’s Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If a previous comp claim places you under suspicion for future injuries, you will want to do what you can to remove the questionable allegations. Whatever the case, you could receive the following benefits in a workers’ compensation claim:
- Medical treatments. Workplace injuries or illnesses can receive medical care at no cost to you.
- Temporary total disability. When you cannot work at all while recuperating from a job-related illness or injury, this benefit could pay two-thirds of your previous gross (pre-tax) wages.
- Temporary partial disability. When you can go back to work, but with doctor-ordered work restrictions, and these limits cause you to make less money than before, you might be able to collect temporary partial disability benefits. You could receive two-thirds of the difference in their gross pay.
- Permanent disability. When you do not fully recover, you could get a disability rating from the doctor and qualify for permanent disability benefits.
- Retraining. When you have a permanent disability from a covered injury or illness and do not go back to work for your employer, you might qualify for vouchers that can help cover some of the cost of learning additional job skills or retraining to re-enter the job market.
- Death benefits. If you pass away from your work-related injuries or illness, your eligible dependents, like a spouse or children, could receive compensation for funeral and burial expenses and other death benefits.
Call KJT Law Group About Your Workers’ Compensation Case Today
If you have questions about your current or previous workers’ compensation claim, a workers’ compensation lawyer at KJT Law Group could talk to you about your situation. You can reach out to us today at (818) 507-8525 for a free consultation.