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Finding the Right Workers’ Compensation Attorney in California: Tips and Tricks

If you’ve been injured on the job and need a California Workers’ Compensation Attorney, know what to look for. Here are some quick points to get you started:

  • Find an attorney with specific experience in workers’ compensation cases
  • Ensure they offer free consultations
  • Look for a “no win, no fee” policy
  • Check client reviews and testimonials
  • Verify their success rate and expertise

Navigating the field of California Workers’ Compensation Attorneys can be overwhelming. With the right attorney, you can focus on recovery while they handle the legal complexities.

I’m Chris Lyle, a seasoned attorney in workers’ compensation and intellectual property law. My experience in dealing with complex workers’ compensation cases ensures that you receive thorough and effective representation. Stay tuned as we dive deeper into how to find the right representation for your needs.

infographic with quick points on finding the right workers' compensation attorney - California Workers' Compensation Attorney infographic pillar-4-steps

Understanding Workers’ Compensation in California

What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is the nation’s oldest social insurance program, dating back to the early 20th century. Unlike other social insurance programs, it is not administered by a government agency. Instead, insurance companies and self-insured employers handle the administration. This means that when an employee gets injured or sick due to their job, their employer or the employer’s insurance carrier is responsible for providing benefits.

In California, the workers’ compensation system is governed by the Labor Code and the California Code of Regulations. These laws outline the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees.

Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Workers’ compensation benefits in California can be broadly categorized into medical treatment, disability benefits, and vocational rehabilitation. Let’s break these down:

Medical Treatment

Doctors in California’s workers’ compensation system must provide evidence-based medical treatment. This means choosing treatments that are scientifically proven to cure or relieve work-related injuries and illnesses. The state has adopted a Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule (MTUS), which includes guidelines for various treatments, such as those from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

medical treatment - California Workers' Compensation Attorney

Disability Benefits

Disability benefits are provided to workers who are unable to return to work due to their injuries. These benefits are divided into two main types:

  1. Temporary Disability (TD) Benefits: These benefits are paid when an employee cannot work temporarily due to their injury. They cover lost wages until the worker reaches maximum medical improvement or returns to work. For example, if your average weekly earnings (AWE) before the injury were $400, you might receive ⅔ of your AWE up to a certain cap.

  2. Permanent Disability (PD) Benefits: If the injury results in a permanent loss of physical or mental function, PD benefits are provided based on a disability rating. The rating determines the percentage of disability and the corresponding benefits. For instance, a 30% disability rating might entitle you to benefits for a specific number of weeks.

Vocational Rehabilitation

If an injured worker cannot return to their previous job, they may be eligible for Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits. This includes a voucher to help pay for retraining or skill enhancement. Workers injured after 2013 may also qualify for an additional payment under the Return-to-Work Supplement Program.

Legal Framework

The Labor Code and the California Code of Regulations provide the legal framework for workers’ compensation in the state. These laws cover everything from the types of benefits available to the procedures for resolving disputes. For example, if a claim is denied, the worker can appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB).

In some cases, like Erica Cox vs. State of California, disputes arise over the termination of benefits, leading to penalties and reconsiderations by the WCAB.

By understanding these basics, you can better navigate the complexities of workers’ compensation in California. Next, we’ll explore how to choose the right attorney to guide you through this process.

How to Choose the Right Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Key Qualities to Look For

When selecting a California Workers’ Compensation Attorney, there are several key qualities to consider:

Experience: Look for an attorney who has experience in handling workers’ compensation cases. For example, David Kent Cohn from Bakersfield has 49 years of experience and is highly regarded in California’s Central Valley. An experienced attorney will understand the nuances of the law and will be better equipped to handle your case.

Specialization: Ensure that the attorney specializes in workers’ compensation law. General practice lawyers may not have the specific knowledge needed for these cases. For instance, Dr. Peter Marc Schaeffer in Riverside has been practicing workers’ compensation exclusively for over 20 years.

Success Rate: Ask about the attorney’s success rate in workers’ compensation cases. A high success rate can indicate the attorney’s ability to win cases and secure favorable outcomes for their clients.

Client Testimonials: Look for client reviews and testimonials. Positive feedback from previous clients can give you confidence in the attorney’s ability to handle your case. For example, Juan J. Dominguez from Los Angeles has numerous positive reviews and a high rating from peers.

Questions to Ask During Consultation

Before hiring a California Workers’ Compensation Attorney, it’s important to ask the right questions during your consultation:

Fees: Understand the fee structure. Most workers’ compensation attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case. Typically, the fee is a percentage of the benefits you receive, often around 15%.

Case Strategy: Ask about the attorney’s strategy for handling your case. They should provide a clear plan and explain how they intend to secure the best possible outcome for you.

Communication: Inquire about how the attorney will communicate with you throughout the case. Regular updates and clear communication are crucial. For instance, Anderson Franco from San Francisco prides himself on clear communication and efficient processes.

Timeline: Discuss the expected timeline for your case. While it’s difficult to predict exact timelines, the attorney should be able to give you a general idea based on their experience with similar cases.

By focusing on these qualities and asking these questions, you can find a California Workers’ Compensation Attorney who is well-equipped to handle your case and help you navigate the complexities of the workers’ compensation system.

Top Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in California

Finding the right California Workers’ Compensation Attorney can make a huge difference in your case. Here, we highlight some of the best attorneys in San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Best Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in San Jose

James Achermann
With over a decade of experience since being admitted to the bar in 2009, James Achermann from the University of San Francisco School of Law is a trusted name in workers’ compensation law. His approach is thorough, ensuring clients get the best possible outcome.

Alex Bonilla
A graduate of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, Alex Bonilla has been actively practicing since 2013. Known for his dedication and client-focused approach, Alex is a strong advocate for injured workers in San Jose.

James G. Butler
Admitted in 1988, James G. Butler brings extensive experience to the table. He is a seasoned attorney from the University of San Francisco School of Law, committed to fighting for fair compensation for his clients.

Thomas J. Butts
Thomas J. Butts, a graduate of the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, has been practicing since 1979. His long-standing career in workers’ compensation law makes him a reliable choice for those seeking experienced legal representation.

Christopher J. Carlo
Christopher J. Carlo from Lincoln Law School of San Jose has been active since 1994. He is known for his meticulous attention to detail and dedication to achieving the best results for his clients.

Best Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Los Angeles

Jay Sidhra
Jay Sidhra is renowned for his comprehensive understanding of workers’ compensation law. His strategic approach and commitment to his clients have made him a top choice in Los Angeles.

Michael L. Baum
With a reputation for being a fierce advocate, Michael L. Baum is well-regarded in the legal community. His expertise in workers’ compensation cases ensures his clients receive the compensation they deserve.

Kevin R. Boyle
Kevin R. Boyle is known for his client-centric approach and successful track record. His experience in handling complex workers’ compensation cases makes him a standout attorney in Los Angeles.

Bruce A. Broillet
Bruce A. Broillet’s reputation for excellence precedes him. He is a seasoned attorney with a proven history of winning substantial settlements and verdicts for his clients.

G. Ronald Feenberg
G. Ronald Feenberg has a long-standing career in workers’ compensation law. His dedication to his clients and deep understanding of the law make him a top choice for those in need of legal representation.

Best Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in San Francisco

Donald C. Arbitblit
Donald C. Arbitblit is a distinguished attorney known for his expertise and successful track record in workers’ compensation cases. His strategic approach and client-focused service set him apart.

Elizabeth J. Cabraser
Elizabeth J. Cabraser is highly respected in the legal community for her extensive experience and commitment to her clients. Her thorough understanding of workers’ compensation law ensures her clients receive the best possible representation.

Christopher B. Dolan
Christopher B. Dolan is known for his aggressive representation and dedication to his clients. His expertise in workers’ compensation law has earned him a reputation as one of the best attorneys in San Francisco.

Kristine K. Meredith
Kristine K. Meredith brings a wealth of experience and a client-focused approach to her practice. Her dedication to achieving the best outcomes for her clients makes her a top choice in San Francisco.

Dale Minami
Dale Minami is a seasoned attorney with a long history of successful cases. His commitment to justice and extensive knowledge of workers’ compensation law make him a standout attorney in San Francisco.

Each of these attorneys brings a unique set of skills and experiences to the table, ensuring that injured workers in California have access to top-notch legal representation. Whether you’re in San Jose, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, these attorneys are well-equipped to help you navigate the complexities of the workers’ compensation system.

Common Challenges in Workers’ Compensation Claims

Navigating a workers’ compensation claim can be tricky. Let’s break down some common challenges and how to handle them.

How to Handle Claim Denials

Claim denial is a frequent issue. Your employer can deny your claim even if your supervisor saw you get injured. This is within their rights, but it doesn’t mean the end of the road for you.

Steps to take if your claim is denied:

  1. Report the Injury Immediately: Always report your injury as soon as it happens. This establishes a record and helps your case.

  2. Document Everything: Keep a detailed record of your injury, medical treatments, and any communication with your employer. This documentation can be crucial if you need to contest the denial.

  3. Seek Legal Assistance: Consulting a California Workers’ Compensation Attorney can help. An attorney can guide you through the process, ensuring you follow all necessary steps to contest the denial. They can also represent you before the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board if needed.

Dealing with Medical Disputes

Medical disputes often arise in workers’ compensation cases, usually concerning the necessity or extent of medical treatment.

Steps to handle medical disputes:

  1. Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME): If there’s a dispute, you might need to see a QME. This is a doctor who evaluates your injury and provides an unbiased opinion.

  2. Medical Provider Networks (MPNs): Employers in California often use MPNs, which are groups of healthcare providers approved to treat workers’ compensation injuries. Make sure your treatment is within the network to avoid complications.

  3. Utilization Review (UR): This process reviews the medical treatment requested by your doctor to ensure it’s necessary and appropriate. If your treatment is denied through UR, you can appeal the decision.

Employer Retaliation

Unfortunately, some employers retaliate against employees who file workers’ compensation claims. This is illegal under California law.

What to do if you face retaliation:

  1. Know Your Rights: Under California Labor Code Section 132a, it’s unlawful for an employer to retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This includes firing, demotion, or any other form of discrimination.

  2. Document Incidents: Keep a record of any retaliatory actions. This will be crucial if you need to prove your case.

  3. Seek Legal Help: An attorney can help you file a discrimination claim and represent you in court if necessary.

Legal Hurdles

Legal hurdles can be daunting, but they’re not insurmountable.

Common legal hurdles include:

  • Complex Paperwork: Filing a workers’ compensation claim involves a lot of paperwork. Missing a single document can delay your case. An attorney can help ensure all paperwork is correctly filed.

  • Understanding Legal Terms: Legal jargon can be confusing. An attorney can explain terms and processes in simple language, helping you understand your rights and obligations.

By understanding these challenges and knowing how to address them, you can better navigate your workers’ compensation claim. If you face any of these issues, don’t hesitate to seek help from a qualified California Workers’ Compensation Attorney. They can provide the expertise and support you need to successfully resolve your claim.

Frequently Asked Questions about California Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

How much do workers’ comp lawyers charge in CA?

Workers’ compensation lawyers in California typically work on a contingency fee basis. This means they only get paid if you win your case. The fee is usually a percentage of the benefits you recover.

In California, the average fee is around 15% of the total benefits awarded to you. However, this can vary based on the complexity of your case. For instance, a straightforward case settled out of court might result in a lower fee, while a complicated case requiring a hearing might incur a higher fee.

Can I sue workers’ comp for pain and suffering in California?

No, you generally cannot sue for pain and suffering under California’s workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation is designed to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits, but it does not include compensation for pain and suffering.

However, if your injury was caused by a third party (someone other than your employer), you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. This type of lawsuit can include damages for pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages if the third party was grossly negligent.

What are my rights under workers’ compensation in California?

As an employee in California, you have several important rights under the workers’ compensation system:

  • Medical Treatment: You are entitled to medical treatment for your work-related injuries. This includes doctor visits, hospital stays, medications, and even physical therapy.

  • Disability Benefits: If your injury prevents you from working, you can receive temporary or permanent disability benefits. Temporary benefits are for when you are recovering, while permanent benefits are for long-term or lifelong disabilities.

  • Legal Protection: You have the right to legal representation. A qualified California Workers’ Compensation Attorney can help ensure you get the benefits you deserve and protect you from any potential retaliation by your employer.

Understanding these rights can help you navigate the complexities of the workers’ compensation system and ensure you receive fair treatment and compensation for your injuries.

By familiarizing yourself with these common questions and answers, you can make more informed decisions about your workers’ compensation claim. If you have any specific concerns, consulting a knowledgeable attorney can provide the clarity and guidance you need.


Navigating the complexities of workers’ compensation claims in California can be overwhelming. From understanding your rights to choosing the right California Workers’ Compensation Attorney, every step requires careful consideration.

We hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights and practical tips to help you through the process. Having an experienced attorney by your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

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By leveraging the right tools and expertise, you can navigate the workers’ compensation system more effectively and secure the benefits you deserve.


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