Despite the care you and your employer take, accidents and injuries happen. Your actions at the time of an injury can affect your right to receive benefits. Take a few minutes now to review these tips and keep a copy nearby to refer to if you or a co-worker is injured in the workplace.
1. Report your work-related injury or illness, regardless of the nature or severity, to your supervisor immediately. Request an "Employee's Claim for Workers' Compensation Benefits" form from your supervisor.
2. Fill out the "Employee" section of the claim form accurately and return it to your supervisor immediately to avoid a delay in benefits. Be sure to indicate all the parts of your body you feel may be affected or hurt by the work-related injury or illness.
3. Keep a copy of the completed claim form as your receipt. Request that your employer return the claim form to you with the "Employer" section filled out. According to the law, your employer has 24 hours to return the completed form to you.
4. Advise your supervisor immediately if you need medical care. If you have filed a Personal Physician Pre-Designation form with your employer before the work-related injury or illness occurred, see your own designated treating doctor as soon as possible. If you did not file a Personal Physician Designation form, request that your employer send you to a treating doctor as soon as possible. Treatment must be provided within 24 hours of filing the claim.
5. Accurately describe in detail to the treating doctor how your work-related injury or illness occurred. Tell the doctor about all the parts of your body that have been affected or hurt by the work-related injury or illness.
6. Attend all medical appointments. Keep copies of all medical slips and notes - such as notes excusing you from work - given to you by the treating doctor.
7. Keep copies of all documents received from your employer or the insurance carrier regarding your work-related illness or injury. Keep accurate records of the following:
Days off work.
Dates of all medical treatment.
All round-trip mileage incurred for the medical treatment.
Receipts for all out-of-pocket medical and prescription costs.
8. Write down all facts about any injury or illness you suffer at work. You may have a civil lawsuit in addition to your Workers' Compensation claim and this information may be helpful to a lawyer evaluating your potential lawsuit.
9. Review the facts of any work-related injury or illness as soon as possible with an attorney who specializes in Workers' Compensation law and handling on the job injury cases. New laws have shortened many deadlines, and early missteps can seriously affect your rights.
10. Do not abuse the Workers' Compensation system. Injuries or illnesses that are not work-related should not be reported. All statements and facts that you provide must be accurate and true. Filing a false or fraudulent Workers' Compensation claim is a felony under California law.