Long Beach was named for its long, wide beaches and owes much of its growth and success to its favorable position on the California coast. Modern-day Long Beach is known for its waterfront attractions and major shipping port, which is the second busiest gateway in the U.S.
Since becoming incorporated in 1888, the city has sprawled into a major urban zone situated in southern Los Angeles County. Long Beach is home to a mix of industries that employ a diverse population of workers, who vary greatly in age, education, and occupation.
“Typically, the industries located closer to the venues are going to predominate for those areas,” said Alan Gurvey, a Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law with the firm Rowen, Gurvey & Win.
“We represent a lot of school teachers, for instance, also road and factory workers. Anything close to the venues, you’re going to get a lot of.”
Gurvey has represented workers in occupations ranging from local government and construction to car salesmen and gas station attendants. A common thread most injured workers share, regardless of industry, is a lack of understanding in the workers compensation system coupled with a limited timeline to navigate said system.
“Anyone who has lost time from work, who can’t go to work because of their injury, or whose injury is interfering with his or her ability to work, it is to their advantage to have an attorney,” Gurvey said.
Reasons to Hire a Long Beach Workers Comp Attorney
A worker shouldn’t feel bad for taking time to recover from an injury. When the workers compensation system is running smoothly, it ensures a worker receives the medical treatment they need to get back on their feet, while also providing monetary benefits to make up for time missed.
However, things don’t always go in the worker’s favor. There may be pushback from the insurance carrier or disputes with the employer. Add this to the stress of rehabbing an injury and one can imagine how complications in the claims process can easily get out of hand.
Here are some signs you should hire a workers compensation attorney in Long Beach:
- Your employer delays reporting the injury.
- Your employer retaliates against you because you filed a claim.
- Employer does not provide information on what doctor or clinic to go to for treatment.
- The insurance carrier denies your claim.
- The insurance carrier denies medical treatment ordered by your doctor.
- You receive written notice from the carrier that they are disputing the claim.
- You haven’t received any wage benefits.
- Your injury is serious enough that you may never return to work.
What Does a Workers Comp Lawyer in Long Beach Do?
In the eyes of the court, different cases have different values. It can be hard to judge for yourself exactly how much money you should be getting from a settlement. A workers compensation attorney is familiar with work-related injuries and knows how much a worker should be getting based on the injury and the supporting evidence of the case.
They will know what to ask for in terms of a settlement, and how to acquire it. Just having a law degree isn’t always enough. A workers compensation attorney can navigate nuances that may be lost on the average attorney. Specialization matters.
“It’s important to try and get the expertise of people who do it on a day-to-day basis,” Gurvey said. “Our firm, we only do workers compensation and nothing else. People who try to dabble in workers compensation don’t have the resources, it’s just too complicated.”
Even if the paperwork doesn’t seem daunting enough, there are aspects regarding medical treatment that’d be better left in the hands of professionals. “Filing paperwork is probably the easiest thing we do,” Gurvey said. “Getting QME’s (qualified medical examiners), all of that is very complicated and it’s hard to do it on your own.”
Here are some things a workers compensation attorney in Long Beach can do for you:
- Handle all preparations and meet all deadlines if the case goes to trial.
- Use experience with trial judges to know what expert witnesses to call.
- Depose doctors involved in the treatment.
- Depose claims adjuster representing insurance company.
- Conference with doctors treating the injury.
- Conduct settlement negotiations with the insurance carrier.
- Handle preparations and deadlines if the case goes to trial.
- Know the grounds for appeals, if the case gets that far.
How Much Does a Workers Comp Lawyer in Long Beach Charge?
The workers compensation system is standardized throughout the state so you should qualify for similar benefits regardless of your location. This is also the case for the cost of your attorney which is regulated by the state. Judges may award your attorney between 9% and 15% of the settlement amount, but only if you win your case.
Since a workers compensation attorney doesn’t get paid unless they win your case, you don’t have to worry about getting dumped with a bill you don’t have the resources to pay.
The major upside is that hiring an attorney leads to larger settlements. In the end, workers walk away with more in their pockets even if they have to shave a percentage to pay for legal aid.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that without the experience, the defendant will settle for pennies on the dollar as far as the value of the case goes,” Gurvey said. “As they say, if you are your own attorney, you have a fool for an attorney.
“I have a client, who had an offer of $200,000 and now we’re talking about settling the case for about $600,000 since he’s retained our firm,” Gurvey said. “I’ve had cases where they’ve had offers for $100,000-$200,000, and I’ve settled the case after taking over for $2-$3 million.”
In short, it most often pays to have an attorney.
How to Handle a Workers Comp Case on Your Own in Long Beach, CA
Most claims do not require the help of a workers comp attorney. When the system works as intended, you simply have to notify your employer to kickstart the process of filing a workers compensation claim. If things do not work out in your favor, you have the option to appeal a claim denial. This will require the help of a workers comp lawyer, but for reference, the step-by-step guide is detailed below.
How to File a Workers Comp Claim in Long Beach
Employees injured on the job in Long Beach should notify a supervisor immediately to ensure receiving benefits, including medical care. If the injury or illness developed gradually, it should be reported to the employer as soon as you believe it was caused by your job.
To protect your rights, file a claim form as soon as possible. Your employer must give or mail you a claim form within one working day after learning of your injury or illness. The California claim form can be downloaded online. Workers also can contact the Department of Industrial Relations’ Information and Assistance Unit online or by calling 1-800-736-7401.
Once you have the claim form, fill out the “employee” section, sign and date it, and send it to your employer right away. Always keep a copy. The claim form should be returned to the employer in person or by mail. If you mail the claim form, use certified mail (“return receipt requested”) so there is a record of the date it was mailed and received.
Failure to return the completed form to your employer puts you at risk of losing your right to benefits. If your employer does not give you a claim form, contact an information and assistance officer.
Employers Responsibility in Long Beach Workers Comp Claims
Employers are responsible for completing the “employer” section of a claims form and forwarding the completed claim form to the insurance company. Employees should receive a copy of the completed claim form from their employer; if you don’t, request a copy and keep it for your records.
Deadlines for Long Beach Workers Comp Claims
There are multiple deadlines for all parties a Long Beach workers comp case and following them is essential to make sure your claim is processed efficiently.
The most important deadline for injured workers is reporting an injury or illness within 30 days of when you believe it incurred on the job. For most workplace maladies, determining when the injury occurred is simple enough, but repetitive-stress injuries or occupational diseases that occur gradually, can make that determination complicated.
For those cases, the timeline for reporting and filing your workers comp claim starts when the following happen:
- You first missed work or saw a doctor for the injury or illness
- You knew or should’ve known that it was caused by your work, generally because the doctor explained that to you.
Once your injury is reported and your completed claim form submitted to the insurance company, your employer must authorize medical treatment for you within one day, to a maximum of $10,000, while your claim is investigated. If that authorization is not provided, you should immediately contact California’s Information and Assistance Unit for help.
When the claim is submitted, the insurer has 14 days in which to mail you a letter with the status of your claim. Contact the insurer if you don’t receive a letter within 14 days.
If your employer does not deny your claim within 90 days, you can presume that your injury is covered. If the injury or illness forces you to miss work, you should begin receiving temporary disability benefits within 14 days after the insurer learns about the injury and your temporary disability. If the insurer doesn’t start the payments by then or respond to the claim by denying it or asking for more information, it will be required to pay a 10% late penalty on the disability payments.
How to Appeal a Claim Denial in Long Beach
If your workers comp claim is denied, you can file an appeal with the state Division of Workers Compensation Appeals Board using this form. After completing the form, you must file it at the Long Beach DWC office. You must serve the appeal to all other parties.Phone: (562) 590-5001
1500 Hughes Way, Suite C203
Long Beach, CA 90810
The DWC office will send you a notice confirming that it has been filed. The notice will include your assigned case number, which will begin with the letters “ADJ” followed by a sequence of numbers. Use the assigned case number on all documents and correspondence.
Next, you must file a Declaration of Readiness to Proceed to request a hearing before a workers compensation administrative law judge. Your case will be scheduled for a hearing called a mandatory settlement conference (MSC). At the hearing, workers will want an experienced workers comp attorney in their corner.
The judge will discuss the case with you and your claims administrator and try to assist the both of you in reaching a settlement. If your case is not settled at the MSC, you will need to prepare documents that outline the dispute, identify the items each party will present at trial and the names of the witnesses that each party will ask to testify.
The trial will be held before another judge, and you will be required to attend. The judge will issue a written decision after the trial and send it to you by mail, usually 30-90 days after the trial. If either you or the claims adjustor disagrees with the judge’s decision, a Petition for Reconsideration can be filed.
If there is a disagreement between you and your claims administrator over the diagnosis of your injury by your treating physician or treatment plan, you most likely will need to request a qualified medical examiner (QME) to review your case and issue a medical-legal opinion. These are doctors that meet additional educational and licensing requirements
If the worker is represented by an attorney, the attorney may try to convince the claims administrator to agree to a doctor to review the case, known as an agreed medical examiner (AME). This can be a quicker more efficient process than a QME.
What to Do If Your Employer Does Not Have Workers Comp Insurance
It is illegal for an employer to run a business in Long Beach without carrying workers compensation insurance. Those that fail to do so are subject to steep fines, having their business shut down, criminal charges, and even jail time for the employer.
If you believe your employer is not insured, contact your local Department of Industrial Relations Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) office and make a complaint. Go to www.dir.ca.gov/dlse to find a local office.
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About The Author
Bill Fay has touched a lot of bases in his 45-year career. He started as a sports writer, gaining national attention for work on college and professional sports. He had regular roles as an analyst on radio and television and later became a speech writer for a government agency. His most recent work is as an internet content marketing specialist. Bill can be reached at email@example.com.