I've been receiving treatment from various doctors since injury, including QME. I've been receiving temp disability checks until recently changed to permanent partial disability checks and started to receive almost nothing. Can I still file a wrongful termination lawsuit? Also, how long will I receive the permanent partial disability checks? What factors will the insurance company consider if I try to retain attorney to settle for one lump sum payment?
That's a lot of questions in one post. Let's see what we can do with them.
1. Once your treating doctor or the QME says you've reached maximum medical improvement, the carrier takes you off of temporary total disability and switches you to permanent partial disability. This is paid at a much lower rate and only for a finite period of time. How long depends on how bad the injury is. Often, the carrier sends you a letter telling you their estimate of how much you will get...but not always.
2. If you feel that your employer fired you because you got hurt on the job, that would be a violation of Labor Code 132a. The time limit for filing under this code section is one year from the date you were terminated. If you think you were fired for some other reason, then it's not under workers comp and you should see a labor and employment attorney to discuss it.
3. There are a lot of factors to consider in valuing a claim. Too many factors to go into here. L.C. 132a also prohibits them from punishing you for getting an attorney. You should consult with a good w.c. attorney to discuss your settlement options. We have several strategies for increasing your settlement and it's usually well worth it to hire an attorney. You're dealing with pros on the other side. Their job and training is to limit what you get. Your attorney's job and training is to maximize what you get.
There are some great w.c. attorneys in L.A. Find a good one here at www.avvo.com or at www.caaa.org. CAAA is the association for attorneys here in California who represent injured workers. Or you can call me for a referral. Good luck.
I am not commenting on any workers' compensation aspect of your case. I write to make sure you are aware you may have rights under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, California Government Code sections 12900, et seq. (FEHA) and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. sections 12101 et seq. (ADA). Many on-the-job injuries meet the definition of "disability" under the FEHA, or under the FEHA and the ADA. If they do, you may be entitled to reasonable accommodation for your disability. Reasonable accommodation may include transferring some non-essential job duties to other employees, providing equipment or devices to enable you to do the main functions of the job, allowing extra time off work for things related to the disability, and more. Also, the employer may not treat you differently from other employees because of your disability. For example, the employer may not refuse to promote you, deny you training or otherwise limit your job opportunities, and the employer may not fire you because of your disability. Rights under the FEHA are triggered when an employer has at least 5 employees. Rights under the ADA are triggered when an employer has at least 15 employees. Any rights under the FEHA or the ADA are separate from rights you may have under workers' compensation.
Please look at my Avvo guide on the ADA: http://www.avvo.com/pages/show?category_id=6&pe... and my Avvo guide to the differences between the ADA and California's more generous FEHA: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/employment....
You may also have rights under the California Family Rights Act, Government Code section 12945.2 (CFRA) and/or the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. section 2101 et seq. (FMLA). These laws allow covered employees to take a maximum of 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave due to a serious medical condition. The 12 weeks can be taken all at once, in increments of fractions of an hour, or anything in between. The only limit is that the total time off cannot exceed 12 weeks in one year. To be eligible under the family leave laws, all of the following must be true: (1) your employer has at least 50 employees who work within 75 miles of one another; (2) you have worked for this same employer for a total of one year, even if not consecutively; (3) you have worked for this employer for at least 1,250 hours in the immediately preceding year; and (4) your medical condition meets the definition of “serious medical condition” under the family leave laws. Your rights under the CFRA or the FMLA are separate from any rights you may have under workers' compensation.
Please look at my Avvo guide on the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. section 2101 et seq. (FMLA): http://www.avvo.com/pages/show?category_id=6&pe....
Finally, I agree with the recommendation that you contact the California Applicant Attorneys Association (CAAA) http://caaa.org/cs/. CAAA is the strongest bar association in California for attorneys who represent injured workers.
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