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California Workers Who May Not Be Covered

California workers’ compensation laws are designed to cover the vast majority of employees working within the state. However, not all workers fall under these laws. In addition to the general rule that independent contractors are not covered, there are also a number of particular fields and positions for which workplace injury benefits may be provided under a framework other than workers’ compensation. Recognizing the program under which you fall is crucial to understanding what benefits you stand to receive — and what process you must follow to receive them.

Three significant workers’ compensation systems may supplant California workers’ compensation laws for a handful of workers within the state:

  • Federal employees — As an employer, the federal government is exempt from state workers’ compensation laws. Instead, federal employees have their own workers’ compensation system operated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC). While similar to state programs in principal, the federal program is still a separate system with its own rules, procedures and legal precedents.
  • Dock and shipyard workers — As a coastal state, our shoreline is dotted with harbors, shipyards and other maritime facilities. Many of the workers who staff these installations may be covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). This act is administered by the USDOL’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.
  • Maritime sailors — Workers who spend a significant portion of their time working on ships operating in navigable waters may be exempted from state workers’ compensation laws under the Jones Act. This federal law gives sailors the right to sue their employers in tort but does not provide any no-fault benefits such as workers’ compensation.

Injured workers need to know the available options so they can choose the one likely to yield the greatest benefit. Consult an experienced work injury attorney in Orange County.

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