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What to do After Suffering an Injury at Work

work injury in storage centerWork injuries can happen in any profession, but when they occur, employees are often unsure about what steps to take. They may be aware of workers' compensation, but unless they have been through the process before they may not know what to do to pursue benefits.

Our Bakersfield workers’ compensation attorneys are here to guide you through the process. If you need help with your workers’ compensation claim, please contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation. We have helped many workers in the Central Valley recover the benefits they deserve. 

Right After the Injury

If you are injured on the job, you should report your injury to your employer right away. In the case of an injury or illness that develops over time and was not caused by just one incident, report it as soon as you believe it was caused by your employment. If you wait more than 30 days to report a work-related injury or illness, you may lose your right to workers’ compensation benefits.

If your injury is an emergency, call 9-1-1 and seek medical care immediately. Inform the medical professionals providing treatment that your injury or illness is related to your job.

If you have predesignated a personal physician or medical group for treatment, you may see this medical professional for your injury. If you did not predesignate a physician, your employer will choose the doctor you can see for the next 30 days.

Filing a Claim

Your employer is required to give you Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC 1) within one working day of your injury or illness being reported. If you do not receive it, you may request a form from an Information & Assistance officer.

Read the form thoroughly, complete the employee portion and sign it. Describe your injury in its entirety, including all areas of your body that have been affected. Give the form to your employer - if you mail your claim to your employer, send it first-class or by certified mail and purchase a return receipt for documentation.

Your employer will complete and sign the employer’s portion of the form and submit it to a claims administrator, who handles workers’ compensation claims for your workplace. Your employer should provide you with a copy of the completed claim within one working day of you filing your portion. Keep this copy for your records.

Are You Eligible for Benefits?

You might be thinking that there is no point in applying for benefits because you only work part-time, or you are not a legal resident of the U.S., and therefore are not eligible. However, even part-time workers and those who are not legal residents could be eligible for benefits. This is why it almost always makes sense to apply.

However, independent contractors are not covered by California's workers' compensation system. This is still a complicated issue because sometimes employers call people independent contractors even when they do not fit the legal definition. If any of the statements below about your employer are true, you might not be an independent contractor. Your employer:

  • Controls the details of your job
  • Can fire you
  • Pays you a salary or hourly wage
  • Supplies you with materials to do your job
  • Requires that you work on specific days
  • Deducts funds from your paychecks for unemployment and Social Security

What if Your Claim is Accepted?

The claims administrator will decide whether to accept or deny your claim within a reasonable period of time. If your claim is accepted, your injury is covered by the workers’ compensation system. This means your medical care will be covered and you may also receive payments for a portion of the wages you have lost due to your workplace injury or illness.

If you have not received a denial letter from the claims administrator within 90 days of your claim being filed, in most cases your claim will be considered as accepted.

If your claim is denied, you can challenge the decision. You have one year from the date of your injury to file an application for adjudication with the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board. This starts the appeals process, and there are several more steps after this if you are unable to reach a favorable resolution.

While you are not required to hire an attorney for an appeal, it can be a good idea because the process is complicated and there are many steps involved. 

Contact Our Trusted Attorneys for Assistance with Your Claim

If you have been injured in a workplace accident or suffered a work-related illness, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Our workers’ compensation lawyers can assist you with your claim, working to pursue all benefits you deserve.

Request a free, no obligation consultation today. We charge no upfront fees and payment is only due if we recover compensation for you.

For a free case evaluation with Berry, Smith & Bartell, a Professional Law Corporation call 1-800-848-6288 today!

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