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Workers’ Compensation and San Diego Small Businesses

Any San Diego business with employees must obtain and keep current workers compensation insurance. This is required by California law and there are substantial financial and potential criminal penalties for willfully failing to have workers compensation coverage. Even if you only have one employee, coverage is mandatory. Sometimes, coverage is required where there are no employees (such as San Diego roofing companies) and coverage is often required if you only have independent contractors (like a realtor’s office). Since the Dynamex case was handed down in March 2018, many “independent contractors” should now be considered as “employees” and, as such, workers’ compensation coverage is needed.

Purpose of Workers’ Compensation Insurance

The purpose of workers’ compensation is to provide payments to a worker who is injured on the job. In general, employees cannot sue their employers for workplace injuries in a court of law. Rather, employees are limited to filing for compensation under the workers compensation regime. The regime was established here in California and throughout the US as a method of reducing the amount of litigation and to guarantee that injured workers have some compensation when injured. The key aspect of workers compensation is “no fault.” That is, workers are entitled to compensation if they are injured at work regardless of who is at fault.

How to Get Workers’ Compensation Insurance

In general, payments and processing are handled by insurance companies. A good insurance broker should be able to find a policy that will cover your business and employees. It is important to have the policy reviewed by an experienced corporate attorney before paying for the policy. Your trusted attorney can insure that the policy meets the minimum standards required by California law and covers your business if your workforce expands.

How an Experienced Corporate Attorney can Help

Your corporate attorney can also help with other workers’ compensation legal issues. First, your attorney can help establish and draft the necessary company policies and procedures with respect to worker injuries. As an example, under the law, workers must notify their employer when they are injured. Failure to give notice is grounds for denying the claim. But more importantly, notice provides your business the opportunity to take actions to remedy a potentially unsafe condition and to prompt your employee to get medical attention. Some particular person must be designated as the person to be notified. Often, that is the worker’s direct supervisor, but sometimes it is more efficient to designate the person who heads the human resources department or some other officer/employee. Your company needs a policy and procedure related to that. If the employee notifies the “wrong” person, that employee needs to know the procedures for passing along the notification to the “right” person. Policies like these should be included in your company’s employee handbook.

Second, your corporate attorney can potentially help with premium discounts. Many carriers will offer discounts for having certain safety protocols. An example might be a company policy whereby certain equipment is inspected every six months instead of every year. The extra inspection will have a cost, but that cost might be offset by lower premiums. Your corporate attorney can help identify and draft such company policies.

Third, policies and procedures are needed for the applying-for-benefits process, too. Filing for benefits is generally done by the business, not the injured worker. There are certain statutory and legal deadlines and the insurance company has requirements, so it is important not to delay in applying. Thus, procedures must be in place with respect to filing the applications and providing the necessary information to the insurance company.

Fourth, your trusted attorney can help ensure compliance with notice and reporting provisions under the California Labor Code. San Diego employers must prominently post information for employees with respect to the identity of the insurance carrier and emergency medical services for immediate injuries.

Contact San Diego Corporate Law Today

For more information, contact attorney Michael Leonard, Esq., of San Diego Corporate Law. Mr. Leonard can be reached at (858) 483-9200 or via email. Mr. Leonard can help with employee-related legal services such as reviewing and drafting employment contracts, creating and/or updating employee handbooks, and more.

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