Accidents in the workplace can cause devastating injuries that permanently impair a person’s ability to function without assistance. Fortunately, many people injured at work are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including provision of medical treatment including assistive devices such as wheelchairs and braces. Determining what benefits are owed and how to obtain them can be complicated, however, and it is wise for people who sustained workplace injuries to seek the advice of an attorney. Joseph Richards of Law Office of Joseph Richards PC is a skilled Orange County workers’ compensation attorney with ample experience helping injured workers seek any benefits they may be owed, and he works tirelessly on behalf of his clients. Our main office is in Orange County, and we also have an office in Riverside County. We frequently help injured employees in workers’ compensation cases throughout Southern California.Workplace Injuries that Require Assistive Devices
A wide range of accidents can lead to injuries that ultimately require the use of assistive devices. For example, car accidents can cause fractures and other injuries, which may require the use of wheelchairs or canes. Incidents involving heavy machinery and accidents at construction sites often lead to crush injuries or amputations, creating a need for prosthetic limbs. Additionally, something as seemingly innocuous as a slip and fall accident can lead to torn ligaments and tendons, broken bones, and other harm that requires the use of assistive devices such as crutches, walkers, braces, and even special handicap accessible vans or vehicles. Even injuries occurring over the course of time, due to simply standing or walking, can result in need for orthotics. The types of work injuries and types of ambulatory devices can vary greatly.Eligibility for Assistive Devices Under the Workers’ Compensation Act
The California Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) establishes eligibility for workers' compensation benefits, including assistive devices. Specifically, under the Act, employees who suffer work-related harm can recover benefits. This means that independent contractors and other non-employees are not owed benefits under the Act. An injury or illness will be deemed work-related if it arises during the course and scope of a person’s employment, which generally means that it must occur during regular work hours when an individual is performing job duties.
The Act expressly dictates that employers must provide injured employees with medical treatment that is reasonably required to relieve or cure employees of the effects of their injuries, which may include crutches, medical apparatus, and orthotic and prosthetic devices. Employers that decline to cover the cost of such devices may be deemed liable for the reasonable expenses their employees incur in obtaining them.The Process of Obtaining Assistive Devices
Typically, injured employees must notify their employers of potential injuries as soon as practicable and may waive the right to recover benefits if they do not provide notice of injury within thirty days. The employer may ask the employee to complete insurance forms that will be submitted to the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, which would require the carrier to officially open a claim. If liability for the claim is accepted by the carrier, the employee may begin receiving benefits, which may include medical benefits. Employees may be able to select their treating doctors from a list of approved providers in a medical provider network. The doctor must then request authorization for treatment that he or she deems necessary, including assistive devices, and only treatment that is considered reasonable will be approved. In cases in which liability for claims is denied, or there is a dispute over the valuation of a claim, there may be an appeals process available.Consult a Capable Orange County Lawyer
It is not uncommon for people injured at work to suffer a loss of the ability to walk. Fortunately, in many instances, the injured worker may be eligible for medical treatment in the form of assistive devices under the Act. If you were injured at work and need a wheelchair, cane, or other ambulatory devices, it is smart to consult an attorney to evaluate your options. Joseph Richards of Law Office of Joseph Richards PC is a capable attorney who advises clients of rights and helps clients seek the maximum benefits recoverable under the law. We have offices in Orange and Riverside, and we represent injured employees in workers’ compensation matters in Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Anaheim, San Bernardino, Irvine, Moreno Valley, El Centro, Corona, Temecula, Long Beach, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, and San Diego. We regularly assist employees with workers’ compensation claims in additional cities in Orange County as well as in Riverside, Los Angeles, Imperial, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties. You can contact us via our form online or at (888) 883-6588 to set up a consultation.