How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in California
Employees must be proactive to protect their rights
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance program that covers workers from their first day of employment. But to receive the benefits they deserve, injured employees must be proactive. That means filing a claim in a timely manner and following up whenever necessary. At Mastagni Holstedt, APC, our workers’ comp attorneys help injured workers file claims, appeal denials of benefits, negotiate disability settlements, and much more. For decades, our law firm has fought for injured workers to ensure they receive every benefit they are entitled to. We’re ready to support your claim with principled negotiation and aggressive litigation whenever necessary.
Rules for filing a workers’ compensation claim in California
California law requires employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage from their very first day of employment. If you are hurt on the job, you may be eligible for these four categories of benefits:
- Medical care — You have the right to have all reasonable and necessary treatment paid for.
- Disability — If you miss work for more than four days, you can receive temporary total disability payments roughly equal to two-thirds of your average monthly wage, up to a limit set by the state. These payments last until you are able to return or up to a maximum of 104 weeks. If you reach maximum medical improvement (where the doctor certifies you are not expected to get any better), but are still unable to work, you may receive permanent total disability payments. If you are not expected to fully recover, but can do some work, you can receive an award of permanent partial disability.
- Supplemental job displacement benefits — If you can no longer work at your former position, workers’ compensation covers retraining costs so you can transition to other employment.
- Death benefits — In the event of a fatal accident, workers’ comp provides relief to the victim’s dependents, including wage replacement and funeral costs.
To receive these benefits, you must report the accident to your employer (or the employer of a deceased loved one) and request a claim form. You fill out the form and return it to the employer who must submit the claim to the insurance company. California law allows you 30 days to give notice of your injury to an employer. This time is measured from the date of the accident or the onset of an occupational disease. In general, the clock starts ticking when the victim:
- Misses work or sees a doctor because of a work-related injury, or
- Knew or should have known that an injury or illness was job-related
If you let more than 30 days elapse before reporting the medical condition, your claim could be barred.
Don’t delay filing a claim out of fear
Many workers, especially if they are new, fear that if they file a workers’ comp claim, they’ll upset their employer, who will retaliate against them. In short, they fear losing their job. But don’t worry, the law prohibits any adverse job action against you for exercising your rights under the law.
An employer might also say you are ineligible, because you are an independent contractor, or your injury is not work-related. Relying on these representations could be costly. These are legal questions, and the answers depend on a variety of factors. Before passing on benefits you deserve and need, you should consult a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney at our firm.
Contact a California workers’ compensation attorney for a free consultation
Mastagni Holstedt, APC helps injured workers assert their rights to workers’ compensation benefits. To schedule a free consultation, call or contact us online. Our offices are located in Sacramento, Rancho Cucamonga, Pleasanton and Redwood City.