Unfortunately, accidents can happen at work and injuries can affect your ability to do your job properly. However, like in other states, the law in California ensures that employers prepare for any situations that can occur in the workplace by enforcing workers’ compensation benefits for all employees in the state.
The purpose of workers’ compensation benefits is to cover the medical treatment that you receive for your work related injury, as well as compensate lost wages after an accident. Even if you are a part-time or a temporary worker, you are still able to claim these workers’ compensation benefits.
Read on to find out the steps you should follow if you have been injured at work in California and see what workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to after your accident in the workplace.
Tell Your Employer Immediately
If you have been injured at work, it is always best to notify your employer as soon as possible to ensure you do not lose your entitlement to any workers’ compensation benefits. Under California law, your injury must be reported in writing to your supervisor or HR department within 30 days of the accident.
Once you have notified your employer of the accident and the injuries you have suffered, you should be given a workers’ compensation DWC-1 claim form to fill in all of your information. This should be completed and returned to your employer within one working day. This information will allow your employer to make a report of the injury and forward it on to their insurance company provider for approval. In California, there is a one year time limit from the date of the accident in to file your compensation claim.
Access to Medical Treatment
In California, if you have completed the Predesignation of Personal Physician DWC Form, you have the right to choose your own doctor that you will receive treatment from in the case of an accident at work. However, in order for this to happen, this form must have been submitted to your employer before any injury in the workplace occurs.
If you have suffered an injury at work and you have not pre-designated a doctor for your care, you must receive treatment from a company-approved doctor from your employer’s medical provider network. This will allow you to receive treatment for as long as necessary to rehabilitate your work-related injury without having to pay. This treatment will be authorized within one working day after your employer files your workers’ compensation form.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If your employer’s insurance provider approves your workers’ compensation claim, you will be entitled to medical treatment coverage to rehabilitate your injury and that will allow you to return to work.
You may also be entitled to remuneration for lost wages that occurred after your accident, which is covered by a Temporary Disability Benefit. If you have not been off work fulltime but have been unable to complete your normal hours, you can receive Temporary Partial Disability Benefit to make up the difference in lost wages.
For more serious injuries that are predicted to be persistent for the long-term future, a Permanent Disability Benefit is available. There are also death compensations that are open to spouses, children and other family members.
Recourse If Your Compensation Claim is Denied
If you have suffered an injury at work and your employer’s insurance company has denied your request for workers’ compensation benefits, you can request a hearing before the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board to challenge this decision.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Insurance is Mandatory
In the state of California, all employers must have workers’ compensation insurance set up in the event that an injury occurs to one of their employees. This means that it is a criminal offense to not have an insurance policy in place or to be registered as self-insured.
If you find out your employer does not have an insurance policy in place for workers’ compensation benefits, you can report them to the nearest office of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Under the California Labor Code, you can also file a claim for workers’ compensation with California’s Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund. It is recommended that you hire an experienced attorney to help you with this process.
Discrimination at Work
In the state of California, it is against the law for your employer to terminate your contract for requesting workers’ compensation benefits after suffering an injury at work. If you believe that you have been unfairly fired from your position due to your compensation claim, it is recommended that you contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to challenge discrimination at work.
If you have suffered an injury at work and what to find out more about workers’ compensation benefits, follow the links below for more articles and guides to help you through the process in California:
- Workers’ Compensation in California: A Guidebook for Injured Workers by The State of California Department of Industrial Relations
- The State of California Department of Industrial Relations’ “I was injured at work” guide