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What Are Some Exceptions to Workers’ Compensation in Southern California?

cropped view of man filling in Workers Compensation Accident Injury Concept

Workers’ compensation is designed as a safety net to provide benefits and medical care to employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. However, not all injuries or situations are covered under workers’ compensation laws in California. Understanding these exceptions is crucial for workers to know when they might need to seek alternative avenues for compensation or legal action. Read on for a discussion of exceptions to California workers’ compensation. If you have been injured on the job in Orange County or the Inland Empire and are having trouble collecting the benefits you are entitled to, contact Invictus Law, P.C., to speak with a board-certified workers’ compensation specialist about your claim.

Independent Contractors

One significant exception to workers’ compensation eligibility involves the status of the worker. In California, independent contractors are not covered by workers’ compensation. The distinction between an employee and an independent contractor depends on several factors, such as the degree of control the employer has over the worker and the independence of the worker’s role. This is a contentious area, especially in today’s gig economy, and misclassification of an employee as an independent contractor can lead to legal disputes. If your employer treats you as an independent contractor but you are not sure this is correct, it may be worthwhile to sit down with a workers’ comp lawyer to review your job duties and other relevant factors.

Self-Inflicted Injuries

Injuries that are self-inflicted, including those resulting from a fight that the injured party instigated or injuries that occur from being intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, are generally not covered under workers’ compensation. The rationale is that such actions violate workplace policies and personal responsibility.

Commuting to and From Work

Generally, injuries that occur while an employee is commuting to or from work do not qualify for workers’ compensation under what is known as the “coming and going” rule. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as when an employee is on a business trip, performing a special errand for the employer, or using a company vehicle for commuting.

Emotional or Mental Stress Injuries (without physical injury)

While California recognizes claims for psychological stress or mental injuries, these are among the most challenging to prove and are subject to stringent requirements. For a stress-related claim to be compensable, it must be predominantly caused (greater than 50%) by the work environment. Absent a physical injury, claims purely based on emotional distress can be difficult to validate unless the employment conditions are extraordinary and unusually distressful compared to the typical work environment.

Violations of Company Policy

If an employee is injured while violating a company policy or engaging in an illegal act related to their work, they may be barred from receiving workers’ compensation benefits. This includes injuries sustained while engaging in unauthorized activities or those that fall outside the scope of employment duties.

Contact Invictus Law, P.C., for Help With Workers’ Compensation Claims in Orange County and the Inland Empire

Navigating a workers’ compensation claim can be complicated, including even establishing you are covered under workers’ comp as a threshold matter. Employees in Orange County and the Inland Empire are encouraged to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at Invictus Law, P.C., to understand their rights and the best course of action if they suffer a workplace injury. Call 949-287-5711 or 888-9WORKLAW to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced California workers’ comp lawyer today.

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