If you have been injured as a result of an on-the-job injury and need immediate medical attention, do not hesitate to go straight away to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care. After you received all treatment necessary there, you should report the incident to your employer as soon as possible. The sooner you report the injury, the easier it will be for the insurance adjuster to investigate what happened and accept your claim, or to allow you to start the process to challenge a denial. Although it is highly advisable to report work-related injuries immediately as some rights may be lost for not timely reporting, you generally have up to a year after the incident to report it to your employer.
Should I report my work-related injury to my employer or doctor first?
If your injury does not require you to see a doctor immediately, or if it is a condition that has accumulated over time as a result of the nature of your work, then you should report the injury to the employer first.
When you report your injury to your employer, they are obligated to give you a DWC-1 form. You have to fill out the “Employee” section and give the form back to your employer to fill out the “Employer” section. It is a common misconception that your visit to the doctor’s appointment starts the workers’ compensation claims process. In reality, completing the DWC-1 form officially starts the workers’ compensation claim process, so it is crucial to file the form and give it back to your employer as soon as possible.
The law gives the employer one day to fill out the “Employer” section, after which the form goes to the insurance adjuster, who will investigate the claim. It is important to note that it is not your employer who is responsible for investigating your claim; rather, it is the insurance company. Also, it is against the law for your employer to fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, nor can they legally fire anyone who is testifying in another’s employee’s workers’ compensation case.
How long does it take to investigate a workers’ compensation claim?
After submitting the DWC-1 form to the insurance company, it may take up to 90 days to investigate your claim. During this time, the insurance company will typically pay up to $10,000 for the medical expenses that you have incurred. In most cases, a doctor, called a primary treating physician, will evaluate your injuries and file a medical report.
After the 90 day investigation period, the insurance company will let you know whether your claim has been accepted or denied. If the insurance company “accepts” your claim, it means that they agree to cover your medical expenses beyond the $10,000 mentioned above. If the insurance company denies your claim, it means they believe that your injuries are either not work-related or covered by workers’ compensation. However, you have the right to challenge this decision!
When should I contact an attorney after an on the job injury?
You may consult an attorney at any stage of this process. Usually, our clients contact us after filing the DWC-1 form and talking to the assigned primary treating physician. It is possible that your case might not require legal help, especially if it is considered a minor injury. However, most cases involving serious injuries that lead to some permanent disability will significantly benefit from the experience of a workers’ compensation attorney. You are welcome to contact our office where you will be able to have a free consultation with a practicing attorney who has experience with workers’ compensation cases. They will let you know if you are on the right track with your case and will answer any questions you might have.
If you have been injured at work, contact a Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorney today. Our workers’ compensation attorneys can help you through any part of the workers’ compensation claims process.