Southern California Workers’ Compensation Defense

California, like most states, requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance.  When a workplace injury occurs, an employee’s exclusive remedy is workers’ compensation benefits unless the injury falls within certain limited exceptions.  Large employers who find themselves facing claims of workplace injuries that are outside the scope of workers’ compensation benefits need defense counsel who have more than just a rudimentary understanding of workers’ compensation law.  For these claims, Southern California workers’ compensation defense lawyer Susan A. Rodriguez is the right call.

Effective Southern California Workers’ Compensation Defense May Require Two Separate Attorneys

Generally, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries.  However, there are some exceptions:

  • Employee Conduct: When the injury results from an employee’s horseplay or intoxication.
  • Employer Conduct: When the injury results from serious and willful misconduct by the employer or when the employer discharges the injured employee in retaliation for seeking workers’ compensation benefits.

Many policies do not provide large companies the counsel for defense against such claims. If the employee prevails, the employer is responsible for paying any damages awarded.

In these instances, employers may need two attorneys:  a lawyer to handle the benefits claim and a Southern California workers’ compensation defense lawyer to litigate the additional claims for increased benefits that fall outside of workers’ compensation coverage.  Los Angeles workers’ compensation defense lawyer Susan A. Rodriguez can tell employers what to expect and provide the additional defense that big employers need most.


More Than Benefits—Some Employees Want Damages

When a workplace injury occurs, the injured employee typically files a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.  An employee who believes that an injury falls outside of workers’ compensation coverage may also sue the employer for damages.  Workers’ compensation policies normally don’t provide a defense for these separate actions.

Defending against claims outside of workers’ compensation in California is significantly different from handling a typical benefits claim.  Even if a workers’ compensation claim and a separate civil action proceed simultaneously, the employer’s workers’ compensation coverage is unlikely to provide a defense in the separate civil lawsuit.  Employers may need the help of a Southern California workers’ compensation defense attorney for big business.

Because of the unique nature of these actions, employers facing claims under exceptions to workers’ compensation coverage need the kind of employer-focused counsel experience held by Los Angeles workers’ compensation defense attorney Susan A. Rodriguez.

Outliers from Traditional California Workers’ Compensation Defense

When workers’ compensation policies do not provide a defense to certain outliers, employers must find effective southern California workers’ compensation defense attorneys.

For example, an employee who alleges serious and willful misconduct as defined by the California Labor Code must demonstrate more than mere negligence by the employer.  To prevail, the conduct must be quasi-criminal in nature:  Under California Labor Code § 4553.1, the employer must have acted with reckless disregard for human safety or with malice.

If serious and willful misconduct is proven, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board may increase an employee’s award by 50 percent.  In real dollars, this increase can be substantial because the calculation is based on the total amount of benefits and payments provided to the employee, including items such as indemnity benefits, medical benefits, medical-legal fees and rehabilitation costs.  Alternatively, an award can be reduced by 50 percent if the employee’s injuries are caused by his or her own serious and willful misconduct.

While California Insurance Code § 11661 prohibits employers from insuring against serious and willful misconduct, the law does allow employers to purchase insurance to defend against these claims.  

Retaliation for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim is Prohibited

Employers may not discriminate or retaliate against an employee who has filed or plans to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.  Threatened or actual adverse employment action — termination, reduction of hours, demotion, change of work environment or duties, etc. — may serve as the basis for a California Labor Code Section 132a discrimination claim.

Successful employees can recover money damages, back pay, costs and expenses and, if applicable, reinstatement.  Insurance will not cover these awards, so the responsibility to pay lies with the employer.  Employers are also subject to fines and jail time — discriminating against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation benefits claim is a misdemeanor.  Susan A. Rodriguez can provide robust retaliation defense for employers facing retaliation claims.

Hire Susan A. Rodriguez as Your Southern California Workers’ Compensation Defense Attorney

Employers dealing with workplace injury matters occasionally need counsel apart from their workers’ compensation insurer’s attorneys.  Susan A. Rodriguez has more than 30 years of experience successfully representing employers in California workers’ compensation defense and other matters. 

No matter how big or small the employer and no matter how complicated or straightforward the case, the Law Offices of Susan A. Rodriguez, APC give every client personal attention.  Susan and her team are results-driven and well-equipped to provide you with proficient, robust workers’ compensation defense.  To discuss your case with an accomplished Southern California workers’ compensation defense attorney, complete this convenient online contact form or call (213) 943-1323.


355 S. Grand Ave., Ste. 2450

Los Angeles, CA 90071

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Office: (213) 943-1323
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4601 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 240

Los Angeles, CA 90071