How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in California
Work accidents can prevent you from earning and providing for the family for an extended period of time. Medical bills can pile up, and long-term rehabilitation or therapy can further add to your financial burden. To ensure you don’t have to carry the economic weight due to your accident, you need to have a backup plan, starting with filing a worker’s compensation claim.
According to Law Corporation, not all kinds of workplace accidents are covered by compensation claims, and some companies will actively try to avoid paying for compensation. This means if you are involved in a severe accident, it would be helpful to have a legal representative to help you get the maximum payment possible on your claims.
Filing a Worker’s Compensation in California
The California Department of Industrial Relations-Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) ensures that employers comply with state labor laws and that employees get a chance to file compensation claims. Here are the steps as indicated on the DWC website:
1. Report the incident immediately
Notify your supervisors and the company as soon as possible of the accident. Immediate reporting will prevent delays in injuries and medical care. The claims process is time-sensitive, and California regulations dictate that notification should be within 30 days so as not to forfeit your right to file for claims.
2. Secure a claims form
Upon learning of your injury, your employer should provide you a copy of the compensation claims form within 24 hours or one working day, whether in actual or through email. If you cannot receive the form for any reason, you can download it at the DWC website.
3. Fill out the claims form
Fill out the ‘employee’ section of the form as completely as possible, making sure you sign and indicate the date. Send the form to your employer in the fastest manner possible, whether in person or via fast mail. Be sure to have a copy of your form and document the timestamp of the date and time you sent it. If in-person, make sure you have the company sign a receiving copy, and if by mail, make sure you have a return receipt request.
4. Request a copy of the completed claim form with employer details
After sending in your claim form, you need to wait for your company to fill out the ‘employer’ section of the compensation form. They should provide you with a copy of this; otherwise, you should request it.
5. Expect an update from the insurance company
The insurance company handling your compensation claim should get in touch with you, typically within two weeks, to update you about the status of your claim. If you don’t get an update within the said period, follow up with your company or call the insurance provider.
Receiving medical treatment
Upon receipt of your compensation form, your company should authorize the release of medical assistance, even if the claim is still under process. As an employee, you can receive medical treatment for up to $10,000. If your company fails to process the claim and decide within 90 days, the claim is automatically presumed to be approved.
What benefits can you get?
California laws give employees injured while performing their duties and responsibilities protection. They are entitled to medical care, temporary disability, permanent disability, supplemental job displacement, and death benefits.
What to do if your claim was denied
If the claim was denied, but you feel that your accident has merit, you can challenge the decision, and this time, seek the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. They can gather evidence to contest the decision and help you get the maximum payment you can get. A workers’ compensation judge will decide on your dispute.
California laws are fair and supportive when it comes to taking care of the needs of local workers. Compensations can extend throughout your recovery, and there are guidelines set until you can safely return to work. If your claim is denied, but you feel you have a valid injury case, having an experienced lawyer to help you will lessen your burden and give you a chance to claim for the maximum amount of compensation. Consult with a lawyer with ample experience in worker’s compensation claims to increase your chances of being rightfully compensated.
Read more: 5 Requirements For Workers Compensation Eligibility