All employers in Central California are required to follow applicable federal, state, and local workplace safety regulations. When an employer knowingly or recklessly violates safety standards and an employee injury occurs as a result, the business/organization could face liability under California Labor Code § 4553. This is the state’s “serious and willful misconduct” statute.
Through a serious and willful misconduct claim in California, an injured workers can seek additional financial compensation equal to a maximum of “ half the value of all benefits paid as a result of the injury.” In this article, our Fresno workers’ comp attorney offers four tips for filing a serious and willful misconduct claim in California.
- Know the Law: Understand Your Right Under LC 4553
The serious and willful misconduct statute applies to a limited number of workplace injuries in California. If you are considering filing a claim for additional compensation under LC 4553, it is imperative that you understand the statute. To bring a successful serious and willful misconduct claim, an injured worker must prove that:
- Their employer breached a federal or state workplace safety regulation;
- They were injured as a consequence of that violation; and
- The breach was intentional, willful, or done with extreme disregard to worker safety.
While workers’ comp claims are no-fault cases in California, the opposite is true with serious and willful misconduct claims. To recover serious and willful misconduct compensation, an injured worker must prove employer liability through evidence. Following an accident, try to gather as much evidence and information as possible that demonstrates the safety violation and the employer’s willfulness or extreme disregard for safety.
A serious and willful misconduct claim is not a replacement for a standard workers’ compensation claim. If you were hurt on the job in Central California, you should file for workers’ comp benefits. Any serious and willful misconduct claim will be a supplemental claim on top of your workers’ comp claim. In fact. Under California LC § 4553, an employee cannot file for serious and willful misconduct compensation unless they have filed for workers’ comp.
- Do Not Wait to Take Action: You Have 12 Months to File a Claim
Finally, it is essential that you take proactive steps to protect your rights and your interests after an accident caused by employer misconduct. Under California law, serious and willful misconduct claims are generally governed by a one-year statute of limitations. You must file a claim for serious and willful misconduct compensation within 12 months of your accident.
Joseph C. Yrulegui is an experienced, results-oriented workers’ compensation advocate. If you are preparing to file a serious and willful misconduct claim, we are more than ready to help. Call us now or use our online contact form for your strictly confidential initial legal consultation. We provide workers’ compensation representation in Fresno County and throughout the wider area.