If you know anyone who has been through the workers’ compensation system, you’ve probably heard how stressful it can be. The California workers’ compensation system can be complex and challenging, particularly if unfamiliar with the process. Therefore, having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side, like those at Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, P.C. is imperative.
California’s workers’ compensation system has a few essential requirements. Here’s what you need to know at the outset:
- Eligibility: To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in California, you must meet specific requirements. First, you must be an employee rather than an independent contractor. Many people who think they are independent contractors are considered employees for workers’ compensation. In your capacity as an employee, the injury or illness you suffer must have arisen out of or in the course and scope of your employment; this means that some injuries can still be covered when not at the actual place of employment.
- Medical care and treatment: In California, injured workers can receive care from a healthcare provider authorized by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Medical treatment can be one of the most challenging aspects of workers comp cases; issues often arise if an injured worker is unfamiliar with a doctor or disagrees with the diagnosis or treatment plan.
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim: In California, filing a workers’ compensation claim involves completing several forms. Depending on the stage of your matter, these forms can include the DWC-1 form and the Application for Adjudication of Claim. While time is of the essence in workers’ compensation claims, filling out these forms thoroughly and accurately is essential.
- Disputes: If your claim is denied or disputed, a hearing may be scheduled in an attempt to find a resolution. This often time-consuming and complicated step is best handled with the help of an experienced workers’ comp attorney.
While frustrating and complex, the California workers’ compensation system provides essential benefits to people injured at work or because of work. Whether you hire a workers’ compensation attorney or not, you’ll want to know the steps to getting started in the workers’ compensation system.
5 Key Steps
If you’ve been injured in the workplace in California, here are five critical steps to consider:
- Report the injury to your employer immediately: As soon as possible after the injury occurs, report it to your supervisor or employer. Doing so ensures two things: you can begin filing a workers’ compensation claim and gain access to medical professionals who can help you.
- Get medical attention: If the situation is life-threatening or even if it isn’t, but requires immediate medical attention, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If it’s not an emergency, ask your employer for a list of approved doctors or medical providers.
- File a claim: In California, employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance even if they only have one employee. To start the claim, request a DW-1 form from your employer, complete it as soon as possible, and return it to your employer. Your employer will fill out their portion and forward it to their insurance carrier. Your employer should also provide a completed copy to you. Suppose they do not ask for it.
- Document everything: Besides getting your copy of the completed DW-1 form, keep detailed notes of the injury and all related medical treatment, such as bills, doctors’ reports, and any other relevant documents, as well as any correspondence between you, your employer, and medical professionals. Include a record of any missed work due to the injury or illness in your notes.
- Hire an attorney: If you suspect you are not being treated fairly during your workers’ compensation claim process, or even if you feel challenged trying to figure out what to do, consider consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. They can help guide you through the process and protect your rights.
Workers’ compensation in California is not easy, but there is help. Call Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, P.C. today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the details of your situation.