Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) –
California Workers’ Compensation, Personal Injury and Criminal Law
Below are answers to questions frequently heard at the Law Offices of Dulio R. Chavez, II & Associates as we help clients throughout Southern California in the areas of workers’ compensation, personal injury and criminal defense. If you have other questions or need immediate legal service in Pasadena, Los Angeles or the Inland Empire, call our firm at 626-357-3303 for a free consultation on your legal needs.
Q. Are there special rules for police officers injured on the job?
A. Yes. Instead of receiving temporary disability or maintenance allowance payments for the period of disability, police officers are entitled to take up to a one-year leave of absence at full salary while they are disabled. This law, Labor Code section 4850, applies to city police officers, sheriffs, county probation officers, and others listed in the law. City, county and district firefighters are also covered under LC 4850 as well. Injured LEOs still get medical payments covered through workers’ compensation on top of this benefit, as well as indemnity payments for a disability lasting more than one year.
Q. Can I sue my employer if I’m injured on the job?
A. In most cases, the answer is no. California workers’ compensation is an insurance-based system that is designed to provide you with payments for medical bills and wage loss when you are injured on the job, without you having to sue your employer or prove that your employer or another co-worker was at fault in causing the accident. In most cases, workers’ comp is your exclusive recourse for a job-related injury, and you are not allowed by law to sue your company, regardless of who was at fault.
It is possible to sue the employer, however, if you can prove your injury was caused by the employer’s willful or intentional misconduct. For instance, if the company disabled safety guards on moving equipment to speed up the production line, forced you to work without the proper safety gear such as eye protection or a harness, or intentionally violated Cal OSHA (DOSH) safety standards, you may be able to pursue a civil claim against your employer. In situations like these, you could recover damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress, as well as compensation for lost wages and medical expenses.
Q. What if some other party is responsible for an accident while I’m on the clock, like if I’m in a car accident?
A. Accidents and injuries caused by third-parties unrelated to the employer give rise to what is known as third-party liability. Examples include getting hurt in a car accident while on the clock picking up supplies, delivering materials or traveling between work sites; slipping and falling in a store or getting injured because of a hazard on another party’s dangerous property; or suffering injury from a defective tool or piece of equipment that was defectively designed or defectively manufactured. In these cases, you can likely pursue a personal injury claim against the negligent third-party while also seeking workers’ compensation benefits. As an attorney who practices extensively in the areas of both California workers’ compensation and personal injury law, Dulio Chavez can help you get the most compensation by pursuing all applicable claims on your behalf.
Q. The insurance company says the accident was partly my fault. What does that mean for my claim?
A. If you were injured on the job, your own negligence or fault in causing the accident is not a factor. Unless you were guilty of serious or willful misconduct that caused the accident, being found at fault won’t affect your ability to receive California workers’ compensation benefits. Serious and willful misconduct that could affect your claim may include being drunk or high at work or engaging in dangerous, reckless horseplay. Make sure your attorney understands all the circumstances surrounding the accident before filing your claim.
For personal injury lawsuits outside of work, your own negligence can affect how much you can recover from the other negligent party. In California, any percentage of negligence attributed to you will proportionately reduce the amount of your settlement, but it won’t keep you from pursuing a claim, even if you are more at fault than the other party. Determining who was at fault in causing an accident is a key part of any personal injury claim. Don’t let the insurance company intimidate you into accepting less than you are owed. Call the Law Offices of Dulio R. Chavez, II & Associates. We’ll conduct a thorough investigation and build a strong case that proves the other party’s liability for your damages, and we won’t let your settlement take a hit due to groundless claims of negligence on your part.
Q. I heard that California got rid of bail. What does this mean to me if I’ve been arrested?
A. With the passage of the California Money Bail Reform Act in 2018, the state of California eliminated the option of cash bail, effective October 2019. Under the old cash bail system, the judge would set a dollar amount of bail required to guarantee the defendant’s appearance at trial; the defendant could secure release from jail pending trial by putting up the cash or securing a bond in that amount from a bail bonds company. Now, instead of fixing an amount of bail, the judge or some other agency will decide whether a defendant is likely to appear in court or commit a new crime if released. Depending on this risk assessment, the individual will either be detained or released pending trial. It is unclear whether more or fewer people will be released or detained while awaiting trial under this new system. What is clear is that it is now more important than ever to retain a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest to ensure fair treatment at all stages of a criminal prosecution, including the important question of pretrial release.