Workers’ compensation in California is a lot like other kinds of insurance. People don’t tend to spend much time thinking about the details of the program unless they actually need the benefits. It may only be after you suffer a serious injury on the job or your loved one develops an occupational illness that you start to worry about the kinds of benefits that you can get through workers’ compensation.
You probably already know that California workers’ compensation offers 100% medical coverage for treatment related to a workplace injury or illness. You may be less familiar with the disability benefits available to injured workers.
Temporary disability helps workers who will eventually heal
When you break a bone, herniate a disc or suffer a soft tissue injury, with the right care and enough rest, you will eventually be able to return to your job. For those who will miss multiple days of work but expect to eventually return, short-term disability insurance can help cover up to two-thirds of their wages, up to a regularly adjusted maximum benefit set by the state.
Permanent partial disability helps those who can work but not at the same job
Sometimes, an injury is serious enough that it will have a permanent impact on your ability to perform certain tasks. Repetitive motion injuries are a perfect example of a condition that could have a permanent impact on your ability to do a specific task, such as lifting, grasping or twisting, that could impact your earning potential.
While you may not be able to return to the same job or the same position, you may be able to seek other employment, even if it isn’t as profitable. Permanent partial disability helps close the gap between the wage you were once able to command prior to your injury and the wage that you now receive after your injury or illness.
Permanent, total disability applies to the most severe of cases
In the event that you suffered an injury so severe that you will never fully recover from it and that precludes you from performing basic tasks including caring for yourself, you may qualify for permanent, total disability benefits.
Traumatic brain injuries are an example of a workplace injury so severe that they permanently prevent someone from returning to any kind of gainful employment. Your career path and medical prognosis will have a direct impact on which kind of benefits make sense for your specific situation.