The days following a workplace injury can feel like a blur. You’re in pain, worried about your future, and still trying to wrap your head around what happened. Meanwhile, you’re being shuffled between doctor appointments and surgeries, all while dealing with medical bills and calls from your employer’s insurance company. To say things are hectic is an understatement.
During this stressful time, it’s comforting to know you have rights that protect you from the physical and financial consequences of a workplace injury. Here’s a quick overview of your rights to workers’ compensation and how to protect your eligibility for benefits.
What are my rights if I get injured at work?
If you get injured at work, California law requires your employer to pay for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits include:
- Medical care
- Temporary disability benefits
- Permanent disability benefits
- Supplemental job displacement benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Death benefits
In addition to filing a claim for your injury, your legal rights include:
- Seeing a doctor and pursuing medical treatment
- Returning to work, if you are released by your doctor
- Collecting some type of disability compensation if you cannot return to work
- Appealing a decision about your claim if you disagree with it
- Seeking legal representation by a workers’ compensation attorney
- Refusing unlawful requests or offers from your employer
- Pursuing an injury claim without fear of retaliation or harassment
- Bringing a third-party claim against a negligent third party, if applicable
How can I protect my rights?
There are two important steps to protect your rights to workers’ compensation:
1. Report your injury
In California, you have 30 days from the date of your accident to notify your employer of your injury. If you have an injury that developed over time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, you should report it to your employer as soon as you miss work because of your symptoms or when you see a doctor and believe the injury was caused by your job. If you fail to report your injury within 30 days, you may lose your right to file for workers’ compensation.
2. File a workers’ compensation claim
After you report your injury to your employer, you must officially file for workers’ compensation. Notifying your employer of your injury alone does not count as filing a claim. To file for workers’ comp, you must fill out a series of documents including:
- DWC-1: Your employer will give you a DWC-1 within one working day after you report your injury. This form will require you to provide details about the time, date, location, and nature of your injury. You will return this form to your employer, either by personally delivering it to him or her or sending it by certified mail.
- Application for Adjudication of Claim: This form gives the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) jurisdiction over your claim. In other words, filing this document gives the court power to resolve issues and disputes related to your claim. You will submit this form personally at the WCAB district office or send it by mail with a proof of service form.
- Declaration Pursuant to Labor Code 4906(g): By filling out this form, you are essentially swearing that you haven’t bribed a doctor, hospital, or medical center to submit fraudulent information to the Department of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). You will submit this claim at the WCAB district office along with your Application for Adjudication of Claim.
- Document Cover Sheet: Include this completed document with the other forms you’re submitting.
- Document Separator Sheets: You’ll place a document separator sheet between each of the forms in your package.
Have you been injured at work? A workers’ compensation attorney can help you protect your rights
The days, weeks, and months following a workplace injury can take a physical, emotional, and financial toll. During such a stressful time, the guidance of a lawyer who is experienced in workers’ compensation is invaluable. At the Law Office of Gerald Brody & Associates, we can help you make sense of your case, file the proper forms on time, and stand by your side throughout every step of the legal process. Your initial consultation is free, and there are no up-front or out-of-pocket costs for representation. Call us today at (619) 528-9800 to see what we can do for you.