The Law Offices of Steven D. Harowitz: Providing Legal Counsel in Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino, and surrounding areas
A legal counsel is necessary when one is confronting matters concerning claims on social security assistance, disability, insurance, serious accidents, workers compensation, personal injury, and other related matters. These claims involve complicated processes that may be deemed somehow incomprehensible by laymen. For people based in Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino, and surrounding areas intending to hire a legal representation for their legal claims, let the lawyers of The Law Offices of Steven D. Harowitz be your legal coach to help you further comprehend your claims and the legal processes involving such claims.
Boasting 27 years of unparalleled experience in legal matters, Steven D. Harowitz Law Offices offer legal representations on social security assistance, disability cases, personal injury such as car accidents, workers compensation, and serious accidents amongst others. Our law firm is helmed by lawyers who are well-experienced and trained to help our clients deal with their legal matters to the maximum extent as possible. We provide thoroughly deliberated advices and employ highly sophisticated technical skills when dealing with our clients’ legal problems.
Whether you are suffering from a personal injury because of a car accident, demanding workers compensation from your employer, or claiming your social security assistance for disability cases, our law firm has the right resources to make all the processes more comprehensible to you. Efficiency, professionalism, and client empowerment are the work ethics our law firm adheres to.
Get the right help you need for your legal claims with the legal counsels of The Law Offices of Steven D. Harowitz. In particular, we have legal representations for social security assistance, disability cases, personal injury such as car accidents, workers compensation, and serious accidents amongst others. For more details regarding the legal assistance we provide, visit our website or call us at 1 877 979 5550. We are especially available for those based in Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino, and surrounding areas.
A work injury may be the result of a single incident such as dropping an object on your foot, or cutting your finger on a machine.
An injury may also be a result of work activities over a period of time. For example, a person whose job requires the lifting of heavy objects over a period of time may develop back or neck pain due to repetitive trauma on the job. Another example would be a person whose job requires repetitive motion of the hands or wrists such as assembly work or typing at a computer. This worker might develop carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive use syndrome of the hands or wrists, and this would also be a work injury entitling a person to the same benefits as if it had been a specific injury.
A work injury may also be the result of an occupational disease or illness that the work place has produced. An example would be a worker who develops asbestosis due to exposure to asbestos products on the job.
An incident or activity on the job, which aggravates a previous injury or condition, is also considered a work injury. An example of this would be an employee who has had prior back problems and then re-injures the back while lifting on the job. That person is entitled to work injury benefits for the re-injury.
In some instances, a person may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits even if the injury did not occur while at the work site. For example, if the injury occurred in the company parking lot on the way to or from work, it may be considered a work injury. A heart attack or stroke, which is due to work stress, may be a work injury, even if the heart attack or stroke occurs at home.
- Medical Treatment
- Temporary Disability
- Permanent Disability
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Death Benefits
An injured worker is entitled to all medical, surgical, chiropractic, and hospital care reasonably required to cure and relieve the injured worker from the effects of the industrial injury. This includes all medicine and medical supplies as well as transportation expense which is currently .34 cents per mile for all trips to doctors or medical facilities.
The employer, or their insurance company, is required to provide the medical care. The employer has the right to select the treating doctor during the first 30 days following reporting of the injury. However, an employee can treat from day one with their own personal physician if the employee has notified the employer in writing before the injury that the worker has a personal physician and notifies the employer of the doctor's name, address, and telephone. For more information, see How to Choose Your Own Doctor
After 30 days, the employee can change physician by notifying the employer or insurance company of the new doctor's name, address, and phone number and that this is the new treating doctor. An injured worker is entitled to an unlimited number of changes of doctors, limited only by reasonableness.
For injuries occurring before Jan. 1,2003, the treating doctor is presumed to be correct as to whether the worker should return to work, or needs future medical care, or vocational rehabilitation and how much disability a worker has. Therefore, it is extremely important that injured workers exercise their right to choose their treating doctors after 30 days following the injury.
When an injured employee is unable to work because of an injury or illness, which was caused by the employment, the employee is entitled to receive temporary disability compensation. This benefit is payable at the rate of two-thirds of their weekly earnings with certain maximums and minimums. For injuries which occur after July l, l996, the maximum weekly payment is $490.00 per week. No temporary disability compensation benefits are payable during the first three days off work, unless the injury required hospitalization or the disability lasts for more than l4 days.
Temporary disability compensation benefits will terminate when the injured worker returns to work, has been released by the treating physician to return to his or her regular work, or when the injured employee's condition becomes permanent and stationary, meaning that the injury has healed as much as possible, and no further improvement is expected.
If the treating physician releases a worker to light duty work (such as no lifting over 10 pounds), before the worker is Permanent and Stationary and the employer does not make work available within those restrictions, the injured worker is entitled to receive temporary disability payments.
Permanent disability is that degree of disability or impairment that remains after the employee has reached the point of maximum healing. A permanent disability may be partial or total. If a person suffers a permanent partial disability, the person is entitled to a permanent disability rating and award even though he or she may be able to return to work.
Permanent disability ratings are provided under the law in the form of money payments, the amount of which depends on a number of things, including the injured's age, occupation, the part of the body injured, and the extent of the disability. The rating can range from l% to l00% depending on how the permanent disability affects the injured Workers' ability to compete in the open labor market. A total disability for any type of work carries a l00% rating. Some of the more obvious examples of total disability would be the loss of both arms, both legs, or the loss of sight in both eyes.
The weekly rate at which permanent disability payments are made varies, depending on the date of the injury, and the extent of the permanent disability. A person who is permanently totally disabled with a rating of l00% is entitled to receive their temporary disability rate for life.
For permanent partial disabilities that occur after July l, l996, the injured worker is entitled to receive payments at either $l40.00, $l60.00, $l70.00, or $230.00 depending upon the percentage of disability. The number of weeks of payment is determined by the percentage loss of the injured worker's working capacity. The greater the disability, the longer the payments are made. For permanent disability of 70% or more, in addition to the normal payments, the person is entitled to a small life pension.
Payments for permanent disability are payable in addition to any payments that the injured worker may receive for temporary disability, and are over and above the cost of medical care. These payments are made after the injury becomes permanent and stationary, or the last date of payment for temporary disability.
Substantial problems may occur in determining the amount of permanent partial disability payable to the injured worker where there is a pre-existing disease or impairment to the same part of the body that has been injured. Disputes often arise regarding how much of the disability is due to the injury, and how much is due to the pre-existing condition.
If an injured worker is unable to return to his or her ordinary and customary employment because of the injury, he or she may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits. Rehabilitation is a method of providing vocational services to restore the disabled worker to suitable gainful employment after an injury. This may consist of an offer of modified work with the employer for at least one year or assistance in obtaining employment in a different occupation at a new employer.
A vocational counselor is provided to assist in the development of a vocational rehabilitation plan. The rehabilitation plan depends on the interests, aptitudes, abilities, past experience, and work limitations of the injured worker. Returning an injured employee to an appropriate and reasonable level of work for the same employer is often the best rehabilitation plan. However, if modified work at the same employer is not offered, placement assistance is provided if the worker has transferable skills from his or her prior employment experience. If the qualified injured worker does not have transferable skills and the employer will not provide modified work, training may be required. This may be in the form of on-the-job training, formal classroom training, or a combination of the two.
Vocational rehabilitation does not guarantee employment. It provides only an opportunity to return to suitable, gainful employment. Rehabilitation should start as soon as the qualified injured worker is capable of participating in the program, and the Workers' doctor is satisfied that participation will not impede recovery. The rehabilitation benefit includes payment of counseling fees, training costs, additional costs associated with vocational rehabilitation services, as well as a vocational rehabilitation maintenance allowance. The maintenance allowance begins when temporary disability has stopped and the injured worker has requested vocational benefits, which is indicated by the treating physician.
For workers injured after January l, 1994 the maximum cost to the employer or the insurance company for vocational rehabilitation benefits is $l6, 000.00. Of this amount, the vocational counselor can receive up to $4,500.00. As a result of this cap on rehabilitation benefits, it is advantageous for the injured worker to begin participating in vocational rehabilitation while still receiving temporary disability benefits. This is because temporary disability indemnity is not included in computing the $l6, 000.00 cap. Therefore, the treating physician should make a determination as early as possible as to whether the injury will permanently prevent the worker from returning to his or her pre-injury occupation.
When an injury or illness causes or contributes to the death of an employee, the surviving dependents are entitled to recover death benefits. The amount of the death benefit is affected by the date of the injury and the number of persons dependent upon the deceased employee for financial support. There are numerous and complex rules regarding whom is a dependent, and whether they are total or partial dependents of the deceased employee. For example, for a worker whose injury occurred after July l, l996 and before January 1, 2006, which resulted in death, one total dependent would be entitled to receive $l25, 000.00; two or more total dependents are entitled to receive $l45, 000.00; three or more total dependents are entitled to receive $l60, 000.00. These payments are not made in a lump sum, but are payable weekly at the temporary disability rate, but not less than $224.00 per week.
Additional benefits may be payable to a very young child of a deceased parent in certain situations. If there is one or more total minor dependents, the death benefit is the temporary disability rate (not less than $224.00 per week) until the youngest child reaches the age of l8.
If there is one or no surviving total dependent, partial dependents may be entitled to some benefits.
In addition, burial expenses are payable up to $5,000.00 for injuries occurring on or after January l, l99l.
As soon as the worker knows or suspects that he or she has a work related injury or illness, he or she should immediately report it to his or her employer. Within one day after reporting the injury, the employer must give the worker a claim form. Waiting to report an injury or illness can cause a delay or denial of workers' compensation benefits.
A claim which is not filed until the worker has been notified that they are being terminated is not valid under California law unless it can be shown that, before the notice of termination, the injury had already been reported to the employer, or that there is evidence of the injury in the employee's prior medical records.
After filing the initial claim form, the injured worker has one year from the date of injury to file an application for adjudication with the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board. In the case of a specific injury, the date of the injury is the date the one-year time begins. However, in a case of an occupational disease or repetitive trauma claim, the date of the injury is considered to be the date in which the injured worker is actually disabled and has knowledge that it is work related.
When benefits such as medical treatment or temporary disability have been provided by the employer or workers' compensation insurance carrier, the injured worker has up to five years from the date of the injury to file a claim for new and further disability. In cases in which the worker is entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits, they may have up to five years from the date of the injury to file the claim for those benefits.
In other circumstances, time limitations may not be a factor, such as mental incompetence, minority, and other issues. You have the right to consult with an attorney to assist you in executing all claims in a timely manner.
Workers Compensation Claims
The injury was caused by someone else's negligence. Can I file an additional lawsuit against them?
In order for an injured employee to recover civil damages, in addition to his or her workers' compensation benefits, it is necessary that proof be offered that the injury was the fault of a "third party." A third party is considered to be a person or party separate and distinct from the injured employee's employer.
One example of a potential third party would be when a delivery driver suffers an injury in a rear end auto accident. In this example, the third party would be the driver who rear-ended the car of the delivery driver. Therefore, the delivery driver would be able to pursue a Workers Compensation action against the other driver, as well as a workers' compensation claim with their employer.
The law in this area is constantly changing and the circumstances under which third parties are legally responsible for civil damages are often difficult to identify. Therefore, it is important for the injured worker to talk with an attorney knowledgeable in this field to determine whether a third party civil damage action is appropriate. Any job accident should be closely examined to determine whether some element of third party fault would permit the injured employee to recover civil damages in addition to workers' compensation benefits.
However, there are strict time limitations in these types of claims. The time limitations may vary with each situation. If the action were not brought within the proper statute of limitations, the injured party would be barred from ever making a recovery. This is true even if the workers' compensation insurance company is providing benefits.
Recovery of third party and Workers Compensation claims is made through settlement with the responsible party, that party's insurance company, or through the filing of a lawsuit. If there is third party fault, there may be civil damages that may be recovered, such as medical expenses, loss of earnings, loss of future earning capacity, property damage, economic losses, compensation for pain and suffering, as well as the compensation for the loss of a spouse's love, society, and comfort resulting from the spouse's injuries or death.
- Temporary Disability Benefits
- Permanent Disability Benefits
- Medical Treatment
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Death Benefits
- Medical/Legal Evaluations And Procedures
As you may know, major changes were finally enacted this year in the workers' compensation system. We are taking this opportunity to provide a brief summary of these changes, which will apply to injuries occurring at various dates beginning on January 1, 2003.
TEMPORARY DISABILITY BENEFITS
In the past, when injured workers became temporarily disabled, they were entitled to receive two thirds of their earnings up to a maximum of $490 per week. Unfortunately, there had been no increases in the maximum rate since July 1, 1996. The new legislation increases benefits to a maximum of $602 in 2003, $728 in 2004, and $840 in 2005. Beginning in 2006, the new law also allows the maximum rate to automatically increase based upon increases in the state average weekly wage.
PERMANENT DISABILITY BENEFITS
There are finally some long overdue increases in the compensation for a permanent disability. As you may know, there have been no increases in permanent disability compensation for disabilities of less than 15% since 1984. The new legislation has some major increases for permanent disability at all levels, including those that have not had increases for 18 years. These increased rates are to be phased in for injuries occurring in 2003 through 2006.
If a worker has a permanent disability of 70% or greater, they are entitled to receive a life pension. If their disability is 100%, they are entitled to receive weekly payments at their temporary disability benefit rate for the rest of their life. Previously, these life pensions were paid at a fixed rate, ignoring any changes in the cost of living. The new legislation provides that if there has been an increase in the state average weekly wage, the pension or total permanent disability award will also be increased annually. This increase will apply to injuries occurring after January 1, 2003, and will allow the most disabled workers to receive reasonable yearly adjustments of their benefits.
Any pharmacy providing medicines will be required to use generic drugs, if available, unless the prescribing physician specifically provides otherwise in writing.
Prior to the new legislation, vocational rehabilitation was a "use it or lose it" benefit. The injured worker could not give up the vocational benefit in exchange for a larger settlement. However, some workers do not require a formal vocational program to return to suitable gainful employment. Therefore, the new legislation provides that a worker may be able to settle their rights to vocational rehabilitation benefits by payment of up to a maximum of $10,000.
Death benefits are based upon the number of dependants, which the worker has at the time of injury. The present death benefit ranges from $125,000 to $160,000. For injuries after January 1, 2006, these benefits will double. In addition, if the deceased employee leaves a child who is mentally or physically incapacitated from earning, the child will be entitled to receive the temporary rate of the deceased employee during their incapacity until their death.
MEDICAL/LEGAL EVALUATIONS AND PROCEDURES
For injuries after January 1, 1994, the written medical opinions of the treating physician were presumed to be correct. This worked to the disadvantage of many injured workers, who would go to employer selected doctors, and would be released with small permanent disabilities, or an indication that future medical treatment would not be necessary. The new law eliminates that presumption. As a result, injured workers will now be able to have an attorney refer them for an independent medical evaluation for an opinion that will be given appropriate consideration in a trial at the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board.
As you can see, there have been some substantial long overdue increases in benefits along with other changes which will help those that need help the most, such as people on pensions and disabled children of an employee who dies on the job. If you have any questions regarding the new legislation or a particular case or any other workers' compensation question, feel free to contact our offices.
Thus, in California the status and certainty of The Worker's Compensation System is far from being clear and is very ambiguous at the present time. And appears it doesn't favor the injured worker. That is why is so important to be represented by an knowledgeble attorney who knows the ins and outs of the new system and how to use it to your advantage.
Thus, with The Law Offices of Steven Harowitz you will get the individual attention that you need in order to prosecute your California Worker's Compensation to a sucessful conclusion.
- $ 4,600,000,00 Structure settlement reached for a client who was in a coma for one (1) month who almost completly recovered.
- 750,000,00 Structure settlement for a tree trimmer who fell out of a tree underwent several knee replacements
- 600,000.00 settlement for a client who had a failed back surgery.
- 520,000,00 settlement for a client who had tinitus ( ringing in the ears) while working for a large aircraft mfg.