When a housekeeping employee at a California hotel or motel is injured in the course and scope of their employment by an anticipated and foreseeable risk of that employment, that employee is eligible for benefits pursuant to California’s workers’ compensation laws. The employer becomes strictly liable for worker’s compensation benefits, even when the employee is the sole cause of his or her injuries.
The General Rule
The trade off is that workers’ compensation benefits are an injured employee’s sole and exclusive remedy. The injured employee can’t bring a personal injury lawsuit against his or her employer in a court of law. Barring an extraordinary case, workers’ compensation benefits for housekeepers typically consist of:
- A sum equal to two-thirds of the injured employee’s average weekly wages during the period of temporary total disability.
- Payment of all reasonable medical bills in connection with the injuries.
- Compensation for any permanent partial disability.
We do not handle workers’ comp benefits here but we can indeed assist you with a personal injury claim.
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What comes to issue in workers’ compensation cases is that in the event of severe injuries, workers’ compensation benefits won’t adequately compensate the claimant. That’s because certain non-economic damages that are awarded in personal injury lawsuits aren’t permitted in workers’ compensation cases. Here are some examples of non-economic damages:
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement.
- Pain and suffering.
- Loss of a normal life.
- Loss of consortium.
Significant awards for non-economic damages can be rendered by a jury in a third party personal injury case, but non-economic damages simply aren’t contemplated in workers’ compensation claims. The fact that Mary is right handed, and the injury was to her right shoulder will be considered in a court of law.
Two Cases on the Same Injury
When somebody else who is not a co-employee is careless and negligent and causes injuries to a housekeeper, an exception to the sole and exclusive remedy rule might be raised. When that happens, the injured employee can file both a workers’ compensation claim and a third party personal injury lawsuit in a court of law at the same time. Here’s an example of such an accident. Mary is on housekeeping staff at a hotel. A guest calls and asks for some fresh towels. While delivering the towels, Mary must pass an electrician from EEE Electric who is working on a six foot step ladder. The electrician loses his balance and falls while Mary is passing him, and he lands on Mary. She suffers a torn right shoulder labrum that requires surgery. She’s right handed, and she’ll be off of work for a minimum of four months. Since the electrician wasn’t a co-employee, she can file both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit against the electrician and his employer.
The law sometimes allows two cases for the same injury, but it doesn’t allow two recoveries for the same injury. If the hotel’s workers’ compensation insurer paid Mary for any of her time off of work, it has a statutory right to be reimbursed that sum from any itemized lost earnings award that Mary might get in her personal injury lawsuit. Unless waived or compromised, it also has a statutory right to reimbursement of any other workers’ compensation benefits that it paid on behalf of Mary or her employer.
Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
Given the consideration that non-economic damages get in personal injury lawsuits, those cases are usually of significantly greater value than workers’ compensation cases. They’re also much more complicated. After suffering a serious injury on any job in or around Los Angeles, contact us by phone or email to arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation. There might be third party liability on your injury that you’re not even aware of. We’ll be pleased to meet with you. We’ll listen to you carefully, answer your questions and advise you on whether we believe that you have a viable third party personal injury claim. You won’t need to bring a penny with you to retain us either. That’s because we don’t even get paid any legal fees unless we obtain a settlement or verdict on your behalf. Get your workers’ compensation claim on file. Then, come see us as soon as possible after that.