Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim In California
When you are injured or become ill because of workplace conditions, filing a workers’ compensation claim so that your medical expenses are paid and you receive fair income compensation should be simple. Shouldn’t it? Unfortunately, that is not often the case.
Over the years, or for any reasonable period, you’ve diligently done what’s right for your employer, dedicating yourself to maximum effort and loyalty. And there’s no doubt, you want to work. Though your goal hasn’t been to make a million dollars, you want to fairly earn an honest dollar.
Your work ethic is solid, and you feel bad that you can’t carry on as you have since you began your work career. While enduring medical problems, you may be worried about how your job-related disability will affect your ability to earn an income in the future. If you have a family who depends on you to provide for them, your worries may be even more overwhelming. The medical or psychological issues caused by your workplace injury have significantly impacted your ability to carry out your job responsibilities as before.
When you’ve been hurt on the job in a California workplace, you have legal rights to monetary compensation, medical care, and other benefits
Federal And California Law Economically Protects Deserving Injured Workers
Fortunately, both federal and California law protects employees who’ve been injured or made ill because of workplace accidents and conditions. If your workplace is responsible for your injury or illness including psychiatric or psychological impairment, your employer must pay for your medical treatment, temporary disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits, vocational rehabilitation, a return-to-work supplement, and, if a loved one was killed because of workplace conditions, death benefits.
If you need to file a workers’ compensation claim, the process is complex, the forms are confusing, and filing deadlines are strict and inflexible. As a working person whose income is critical to your economic survival, you can’t afford to lose your workers’ compensation claim.
It Is Illegal For Your Employer To Fire You Or Retaliate When You File A Workers’ Compensation Claim
Under California Labor Code 132a, it is illegal to fire or retaliate against an employee for filing a work-related injury or illness claim. If you were fired or fear you will be for filing a workers’ compensation claim, CLC 132a law could help get your job back.
The experienced attorneys at Workers' Compensation Lawyer, Inc., are highly qualified to fight for your rights, just compensation, and job return if you’ve been discriminated against by your employer after you filed your injury claim.
Do You Have The Wherewithal To Pursue Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Alone?
While you have every right to go it alone, you may already have too much to focus on when you’re dealing with a work-related injury or illness. What’s more, your chance of winning a fair and just workers’ compensation claim may be substantially enhanced when you’re represented by a skilled, extremely knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney.
No upfront cost for injured workers as attorney Brian Freeman advocates for what’s lawful and fair
Incorrect Filing Or Missing Deadlines Could Permanently Destroy Your Right To Benefits
The forms that need to be filled out and the time restrictions on filing them can be overwhelming. If you miss a deadline, you may never be able to recover your just workers’ compensation benefits.
Should you handle your workers’ compensation claim on your own? It’s important to know that the process is complicated, and time-restrictions could cause you to permanently be denied benefits.
If you handle your injury or illness claim without an attorney, here’s what you must do:
Report your workplace injury or known illness to your employer within 30 days of experiencing or discovering an injury or work-related illness.
Correctly and properly file a workers’ compensation claim form, which your employer is required to provide within one working day of your report to them of your injury or illness. If your employer doesn’t give you the claim form, you can contact the workers’ compensation “Information and Assistance Unit” to guide you on what you should do, or call their recorded claim information instructions at 800.736.7401. When you fill in the claims’ form, you should only fill in the employee section.
If your employer doesn’t give you the claim form, you should still protect your rights by filling it out on your own by downloading it from the California Workers Compensation website.
When you’ve properly completed, signed, and dated the workers’ compensation claim, you must hand it to your employer in person or send it to them via the United States Postal Service (USPS) immediately. If you mail it, you must send it as certified mail (return receipt requested) so you have documentation proving the date it was mailed and received.
After you’ve completed your claim, the following should happen:
Your employer is then required by law to fill out the employer section of the workers’ compensation claim form with a “First Report of Injury” or similar document, forward it to their insurance carrier and provide you with a copy.
During this process, within one day of filing a claim form, your employer must authorize your necessary medical treatment and allow you to see an appropriate physician and provide you with time off to do so.
While awaiting your employer’s decision to accept or reject your claim, you are entitled to up to $10,000 in required medical evaluation and treatment costs.
If your employer doesn’t pay your medical and income claims in a timely manner, you may be also entitled to an increase in qualified payments.
Generally, within 14 days, your employer’s insurance carrier should inform you of your claim’s status.
What will likely follow your claim is that your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage carrier and their attorneys will investigate your benefit’s eligibility or work to deny your claim. Such an investigation may require documentation of your payroll history and personnel file. During the investigation, they may speak to your supervisor, co-workers, and any other witnesses to validate your claim.
It’s important that you cooperate with their investigation. But what you say to them and what that cooperation entails could make the difference between winning your workers’ compensation claim or not.
What If You Say The Wrong Thing To A Workers’ Compensation Investigator?
As if you don’t already have enough to handle when you’ve been hurt or injured on the job, if you say the wrong thing to a workers’ compensation insurance investigator you may permanently lose your right to benefits and will be left alone to deal with the economic and medical disasters that ensue.
What you say or any evidence you provide without the competent assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney may compromise your claim. It’s not that you won’t cooperate in good faith with insurance adjusters and carrier attorneys or be honest about what happened, but unscrupulous workers’ compensation insurance companies and their attorneys may subject you to questions and requests to gain evidence to deny your claim.
What If Your Claim Is Denied?
When you’ve followed the process for filing a workers’ compensation claim, but it is denied, you’ll have to proceed through a further complex process of filing an adjudication of claim application with the worker’s compensation appeals board (WCAB). Then, all appeal documents must be served in accordance with Labor Code Section 5501 and Section 10500 of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board’s Rules of Practice and Procedure. If you don’t have an attorney helping you with your appeal, you must send by certified mail or hand deliver any related documents to all parties in your case.
Unfamiliar Legal And Medical Terms, Acronyms, And Language Are Further Confusing To The Workers’ Compensation Process
As for the forms and documents required to file a claim, they may not make sense or may include language that is unfamiliar to you. If you’ve already started the claims process, you may have encountered dozens of unfamiliar terms and acronyms without explanation such as PD (permanent disability), PPD (permanent partial disability), QIW (qualified injured worker), SA (stipulated award), AWW (average weekly wage), CT (continuing trauma injury), and many more.
Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Have Successfully Fought For The “Average Joe”® For Over A Decade
For more than a decade, attorney Freeman has had substantial success winning monetary compensation for California’s injured people because of his passionate dedication to “fighting for the average Joe®.” As an attorney representing injured workers, he will strategically and diligently ensure your claim is properly reported and filed on time to maximize your successful claim while relieving you of the stress and worries of handling it by yourself.
When you’ve been out of work, what you don’t need is another bill. If attorney Freeman takes on your case, you’ll never pay a penny up front because he works on a contingency basis. That means, he only gets paid a percentage of your total financial settlement. (An attorneys’ fee of 15% is typically approved and awarded by the workers’ compensation appeals board. Ultimately, any attorneys’ fee is always set and approved by a judge at the end of your case.)
An Experienced, Knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation Attorney Could Make The Difference
How you should fill out forms, what you report, evidence you should provide, or cooperation you give may be effectively guided by a skilled, knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney so you don’t lose your legal and just benefits.
If you are faced with filing a workers’ compensation claim in Riverside or San Bernardino and it seems like a bigger task than you imagined, you may wonder if you should now seek legal representation.
While it’s understandable that you’d like to handle this on your own, the best course of action is to get the help of an experienced, dedicated California workers’ compensation attorney. After all, you have enough to deal with when managing your medical situation or the stress of wondering how you’re going to survive financially when your ability to work has been interrupted.