Q: I was in a vehicle, owned by the company, and had just finished a meeting with a customer. I was driving home when another car rammed into me. My injuries are serious. Is this a workers’ compensation matter?
A: Under the “going and coming rule,” workers’ compensation coverage usually does not apply to injuries sustained during your commute to or from work. There are some exceptions, such as driving a company vehicle (as you say you were), attending to a special errand for your employer, traveling on a business matter, or you are required to utilize your own car for business purposes during the work day. In the situation described, you were not traveling from the office to home, but from a customer meeting. To get the ball rolling, you may report the matter promptly to your employer, but also consult just as promptly with a workers’ compensation lawyer. Keep in mind that one of the few areas in which a lawyer in California can become a certified specialist is workers’ compensation because it has some unique aspects; having a qualified attorney on board is prudent.
Q: What are the basic steps to making a workers’ compensation claim in California? What if the injury is not known for awhile?
-H.R., Hermosa Beach
A: There are three basic steps to filing a workers’ compensation claim in California: First, report the injury to your employer; second, file an actual claim with your employer; and third, file an “application for adjudication of claim” with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. As to an injury that is not known right away (for example, a disease that arises from exposure to toxic chemicals), the time frame to report and file the claim begins when each of the following occur: (a) your first missed work day, or the day you saw a physician for the injury or illness; and (b) the date by which you knew or should have known that the illness was caused by the work environment (which may well be once you are examined by a doctor).
The California Department of Industrial Relations has a “frequently asked questions” phone number, which has recorded information about a variety of workers’ compensation topics. The information is available 24 hours a day. The number is 800-736-7401.
Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 35 years of experience. His column, which appears in print on Wednesdays, presents a summary of the law and should not be construed as legal advice. Email questions and comments to him at RonSEsq@aol.com or write to him at Ask the Lawyer, Daily Breeze, 400 Continental Blvd, Suite 600, El Segundo, CA, 90245.
Source: Orange County Register