Business owners in every state are required to present their workforce with a reasonably safe and healthy work environment.
However, sometimes, employers fail to fulfill this obligatory duty, and workers get injured as a result. On the other hand, occasionally, workers can still get injured while on the job even when their boss has made every effort to make the working environment as safe as possible.
These work-related injuries may include everything from occupational illnesses to broken bones, aggravations of pre-existing conditions and even psychological trauma.
Every state has some legal system that helps workers with work-related injuries, and California has one of the leading systems in the U.S.
So, if you were injured on a job site, you should do a couple of things, or better said, take a couple of steps to protect your well-being and your legal rights to workers’ compensation benefits.
In the following article, you’ll learn everything from what qualifies as a workplace injury to how to file a workers’ compensation claim and beyond. Without further ado, here are the seven steps you need to take if you’ve been injured while on work in California.
What Qualifies As A Workplace Injury?
In brief, if you get hurt while at work or become sick because of your job, your medical situation will typically qualify as a workplace injury.
According to California state law, workplace injury is any injury or illness if an event or exposure in the work environment caused or contributed to the condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition.
The definition clearly states that some workplace injuries can emerge from unexpected and dramatic events like falls, slips, burns, and crushing injuries. In contrast, other workplace injuries, like black lung disease, can develop over time.
Qualifying Criteria For A Workplace Injury Claim
When and how your injury occurred will determine if you have a valid workplace injury claim in place. To qualify as a legitimate work injury claim, the latter criteria must be actual:
- The injury occurred while legally employed and on the clock.
- You weren’t hurt while doing anything illegal.
- The injury was reported as soon as possible to the employer.
- You successfully filed a workers’ compensation claim before the state’s deadline.
Nevertheless, not every injury or illness entitles you to a workers’ compensation claim, even if you get injured or sick at work. For instance, a worker who gets food poisoning while eating a lunch brought from home won’t get far with the compensation claim. Then again, if you slip, fall, and tear your knee ligament while away from the facility on a company business trip might count as a workplace injury.
To get a better grasp of whether you have a case or not, we recommend contacting a workers comp law firm based out in California that will fight for your legal rights every step of the way to ensure you receive the highest amount of compensation possible for the damages related to your workplace injury or illness.
What Is A Work Injury Claim?
Each work injury claim seeks medical and income replacement benefits while you recover from your work-related injury. The claim gets filed with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider.
With the claim, the injured person doesn’t have to prove that their employer’s negligence caused the injury. A claim is valid even if the worker made a mistake that led to their injury, as long as they were acting in the course of their duties.
How Do You File A Claim?
The whole process starts by checking with the employer’s HR department. If you work for a small company without an HR department, you should report the injury to your superintendent and demand a workplace injury report form and a workers’ compensation claim form from them.
In California, these claims are filed with the ‘Department of Industrial Relations—Division of Workers’ Compensation’ located in San Francisco. You can also file your claim online in California, so you won’t have to book a trip to San Francisco.
How Long After The Injury Can You File The Claim?
Obviously, it’s best to file your workers’ compensation right after your injury or as soon as you’re diagnosed with a work-related illness or condition. Bear in mind that reporting a work-related injury to your employer is not the same as filing a claim for workers’ compensation. You may lose your right to compensation benefits if you miss California’s deadline for filing a claim.
How Long Does A Work Injury Claim Take?
Well, you can presume that the workers’ compensation insurance provider company will respond to your claim very soon. Most claims are honest and get accepted immediately, mainly if your boss is backing up your compensation claim.
Compensation claims that are questionable or more complex might take longer to process, and this process could take up to a year or more. The insurance provider won’t deny your claim, but they may need more information and time before releasing funds to your account for medical care and income replacement.
What Are Your Legal Rights If You Get Injured At Work?
Injured employees have indisputable legal rights under California’s workers’ compensation laws, including the following:
- File a workers’ compensation injury claim.
- Get immediate medical attention and adequate treatment.
- Receive disability monetary compensation while unable to work.
- Return to work after recovery.
Could You Get Fired After Getting Injured At Work?
In brief, yes. In California, your employer could legally terminate your at-will employment when you’re absent because of an injury, as long as you aren’t fired in retaliation for reporting a workplace injury.
For instance, you could legally lose your job position if your absence creates a hardship for the business owner. Nevertheless, your workers’ compensation benefits should continue until you’re officially able to work again.
How Do You Prove A Work-Related Injury?
Bear in mind that it’s always easier to prove a workplace injury when you act promptly. If a co-worker witnessed your injury, make sure to get their name and credentials. Immediately report your workplace injury to your supervisor or HR department, and provide the name of the witness or witnesses.
Additionally, get immediate medical attention, and make sure to tell your doctor how and when you got hurt, and point out every affected body part and not only the area that hurts the most at the time.
Most workers’ comp injury claims will be accepted by the insurance provider without question, as long as the employer is on board. If your employer questions the nature of your injury or states that the injury should not be qualified as a workplace injury, it usually falls on the employer to prove you wrong. Having said that, you’re always better off possessing potent evidence proving your injury or condition is workplace-related.
Who Would Pay For The Workplace Injury?
In most cases, the employer’s insurance provider company should pay the medical expenses and wage replacement benefits. If your boss was not adequately insured, you could always file a lawsuit against them to prosecute them for total compensation for your damages.
In other cases, a third party may also be liable for workplace injuries. For instance, suppose you’re on the job driving a company car and get hit by another driver who ran a red light. If so, the workers’ compensation benefits will get paid by the insurance of your employer. Still, you can pursue legal action for compensation from the at-fault driver through their auto insurance liability coverage as well.
Whatever your case may be, before filing a workers’ compensation claim, it’s a good idea to consult with a renowned attorney who has years of experience handling such claims. Book an initial consultation with your attorney of choice and let them help you determine what benefits you might be entitled to receive.
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