California Employment Law
California Employment Law Questions Answered by Legal Experts
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You are required to pay for any medical treatment that can be seen as necessary as a result of the at work incident. This can include exacerbation of a pre existing injury. That being said, workers compensation insurance companies constantly argue that injuries like these are pre-existing, and the treatment required is only for the pre existing condition and not for the exacerbation. Arguments like this will likely keep you out of having to pay penalties until after a WC judge issues a demand to pay. A failure to pay at that juncture would likely result in penalties, however. The easy solution to this is that you should pass this off to your workers compensation insurance. They will deal with it and decide if they want to pay out or defend against a lawsuit. If you do not have workers compensation insurance, then you should highly consider paying for this persons treatment, because if they decide to report you to the DLSE, even if they don't have recourse, you will have significant fines levied against your business.
This is because Labor Code Section 3700 requires all employers with at least 1 employee to carry insurance. A failure to do so will result in cause the DLSE to issue a stop order prohibiting further use of employee labor until you purchase workers compensation insurance. It will also carry a fine for every employee you have working for you and may even be seen as a misdemeanor. The fine you will end up paying will be far in excess of any medical bills this person requires.
So, in short, if you have insurance, let them deal with it. They will try to find a doctor willing to state that her current condition is where she was at prior to the accident. If you do not, it will be in your best interest to take care of this quietly, because if you do get reported, the consequences far outweigh the possible benefits.
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As you are well aware, I cannot create an attorney client relationship with you and thus cannot tell you what you should do in this situation, however, if it was me, I would not want to run the risk of this employee causing any problems. Thus, I would not coddle this person (as employees try to take advantage when they think they can) but I would make sure all of their medical needs are met. You could ask the employee to make sure to have something from the doctor stating that they believe the procedure is related to the work injury, but never deny payment long enough to have them feel their only recourse is to go to the workers compensation board.
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