What is a Subsequent Injury Fund Case and Do I Qualify?
It is not uncommon for individuals to have various types of impairments or disabilities, but that does not always mean they are unable to return to the workforce. If a person has a previous injury or impairment, employers may be hesitant to hire them out of fear they will end up paying additional compensation should that employee sustain an injury on the job. In other words, the employer does not want to be on the line for paying medical bills and lost wages caused primarily or in part by the previous disability or impairment.
However, the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF) can help provide compensation in these situations, and it can also enable employers to hire workers who have prior disabilities or impairments without the fear of being on the line for paying more than they should in workers’ compensation insurance.
What is the SIBTF?
The Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund was formerly known as the Subsequent Injuries Fund (SIF) and was established by the California legislature in 1945. This fund was meant to encourage employers across various industries to hire disabled workers without having to worry about assuming responsibility for the pre-existing disability should a workplace incident occur.
Do You Qualify?
If a California worker with a disability sustains injuries in an on-the-job accident (after already having the prior disability), then they will be entitled to receive SIBTF benefits under the California workers’ compensation laws.
However, qualifying for SIBTF benefits can be a complicated venture. We strongly encourage injured workplace injury victims who have a prior disability to reach out to a qualified workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible before applying for benefits. SIBTF claims can complicate what is often otherwise a simple workers’ compensation case.
There are various legal issues that an attorney must understand before helping a disabled worker recover their rightful benefits. At the core of these issues will be determining whether or not a disabled employee who sustains a workplace injury meets the qualifying thresholds for additional compensation. A Sacramento personal injury attorney will also need to have a clear understanding of how these cases work, so please find an attorney who understands this aspect of California workers’ compensation law.
If a prior disability is aggravated by a workplace injury, the threshold for SIBTF funds needs to be met. To determine if a person qualifies for these additional benefits, an attorney will need to ensure that the following elements are in place:
- The injured individual has a permanent pre-existing disability, impairment, or medical condition that prevents them from obtaining employment.
- The worker has had a subsequent workplace medical condition or disability.
- When the previous and new impairments or disabilities are combined, the impact is more severe than what the worker’s impairment or disability would have been if they had only sustained the subsequent injury without their previous disability or impairment.
- The previous and subsequent disability or impairments, when combined, must be equivalent to 70% or more of a permanent disability rating.
- The new workplace injury must have caused a minimum of 35% of the combined permanent disability or impairment.
As you can see, the qualifications for receiving these additional funds can be quite stringent, and insurance carriers often push back against one or more of the points in order to avoid paying compensation. Your attorney can help work through each of these points and handle all communication with the insurance carriers and other parties involved.