You were performing your regular job duties when an accident happened and you sustained an injury. What do you do next?
Here is how the workers’ compensation claims process begins in California.
1. Tell your employer
You will need to fill out a form to get the claim process started, and your employer must provide this document. The company has one working day after you inform your supervisor or another appropriate person to either give you the form or mail it to you. If the company does not fulfill this responsibility, you can acquire it yourself through the Department of Industrial Relations Division of Workers’ Compensation.
2. Fill out the form
The claim form has two sections: an employee section and an employer section. You should fill out your portion of the form right away and promptly return it to your employer. On the form, you should include your signature and the date. Make a copy of the form before giving it back to your employer. If you mail it, choose certified mail and request a return receipt so you have proof of the date you mailed it and the date your employer received it.
3. Seek medical treatment
If you have not already done so, you may seek appropriate medical treatment. Your employer has one day after you file the form to accept or reject the claim, but you may receive treatment up to $10,000 while waiting to hear whether the company has submitted the claim to the insurance company.
The next part of the process is out of your hands. Your employer must fill out its portion of the form and send the claim to its workers’ compensation insurance carrier. After the insurance company receives the form, it has 14 days to mail you a claim status letter. If you do not receive it by this time, you may call the company to get the information.
Your employer should send you a completed copy of the claim form after filling it out. You need this for your records, so if you do not receive it, request that your employer sends you your copy.
5. Consider hiring an attorney
The state's Department of Industrial Relations explains that there are many points in the process once the claim moves forward where an attorney may be of benefit to workers. For example, an attorney may work with your doctor and your employer to determine what changes in your job duties you may need if you must return to work on a limited basis. An attorney may also represent you in discussions with the claims administrator and in front of a judge on issues such as the disability rating you receive.