Workers' Compensation Law

A Legal Guide for Northern California Consumers

In the State of California, workers’ compensation law is a no fault system. This means that the benefits will be given to the injured worker regardless of who was at fault. Under the law, employees who have been injured at work need not prove that another person caused their injury in order to get benefits.

Workers’ compensation, also known as workmans’ comp, is the country’s oldest state-mandated social insurance program. Each state, including California, has it’s own laws and programs for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation for federal employees is administrated by the federal government. Employees usually do not have the right to sue their employer in court for damages for their injuries in exchange for workers’ compensation.

Types of  Injuries Under Workers’ Compensation Law in California

Workers’ compensation law in California requires proof that the worker’s injury occurred during the course and scope of employment. Injuries can be either:

Cumulative Injury:

An injury that occurs over time by repeated exposures or events at work.  For example, losing your hearing due to regular exposure to loud noise, hurting your back as a result of repetitive heavy lifting, or carpal tunnel from computer keyboard or mouse use, to name a few. In order to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits for a cumulative injury, it must be proved with evidence from a medical doctor.

Specific Injury:

A specific injury that was caused by one event at work, such as getting burned by a chemical splashed on your skin, hurting your back in a fall, or injuring your shoulder from a car accident while making deliveries for the employer.

Emotional or Psychiatric Injury:

The California Workers’ Compensation system recognizes that emotional or psychiatric injuries can be brought about in the workplace. However, it can be difficult to prove, and the worker must meet a higher threshold in order to obtain benefits for emotional or psychiatric injuries as compared to a physical injury.

Emotional or psychiatric injuries can result from a specific physical injury on the job that results serious disabilities. Emotional injuries can also arise when the worker is a victim of a violent act, or exposed to a sudden violent act in the workplace.


All of the contributing lawyers on this website are with local law firms right here in Northern California. These attorneys, along with others, can also be found on the Lawyers In FOCUS legal directory.