Do I have a workers’ compensation case in California?

Nikki Mehrpoo Jacobson - Workers' Compensation - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Nikki Mehrpoo Jacobson

Rose Klein & Marias LLP
Los Angeles, CA
Phone: (888) 207-9600
Fax: 213-623-7755

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Attorney at Law
Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist
By The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization
(310) 277-2266       (888) 207-9600


Do I Have A Work Injury Case?  Do I Have A Workers’ Compensation Claim in California?

I was injured at work.  I don't know what to do.  Do I have a Work Injury Case?  Can I file a Workers' Compensation Claim in California?  If you are injured at work in California, your employer is responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits. All injuries obtained in the duties of your job, from cuts and scrapes to a serious fall, are eligible for coverage by your employer. However, most people who are injured do not understand the steps they must take after an accident to obtain benefits. 

Understanding what to do after a work injury is as important as recovering from the injury itself. Remember, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting an injury at work, so you should not fear the process. To begin the process of obtaining workers’ compensation, you must follow these steps. Each step is important to ensuring that you have a robust and well-documented claim so you can receive all of the benefits you are allowed under the law.


Tell Your Employer About Your Injury As Soon As Possible

You should report your injury as soon as possible. California law allows employees up to 30 days after the injury to make a report. If you are exposed to toxic chemicals or have an injury due to repetitive physical stress, you have 30 days from the date you realize you are injured, even if the injury occurred at another date. 

You should not delay this step because it is the first step you need to take for your employer to compensate you. Further, gathering evidence like taking photos of the scene or collecting a statement from another employee who saw the accident may be more difficult. 

Seek Medical Treatment

In some serious work accident cases, this will be the first step. After you report your injury, your employer will direct you to a medical provider. California law requires that information related to the medical provider they will send you to is posted in an accessible and visible area like a break room. 

You may be able to see your own doctor after an injury if you have predesignated this with your employer’s group health insurance provider. 

Tell Your Doctor You Were Injured At Work And Share How You Feel

It is important to tell your doctor you were hurt at work, so they know where to send the bill. When you are injured at work, it is your employer’s responsibility to pay for medical costs, so you should not receive a bill. 

It is important to show or tell your doctor everywhere you feel pain. If you do not tell them all the symptoms of your injury, you may be denied coverage for that injury. For example, if you slip at work and feel pain in your leg and foot, but you only tell your doctor about the pain in your foot, then you may not be covered for any ongoing treatment you need for the pain in your leg. 


File A Claim Form

Your employer must provide you with a workers’ compensation claim form within 24 hours following your injury. After you fill this out, your employer will file it with their insurance company, and someone will be assigned to manage your claim. 

File this paperwork as soon as possible after your injury so that you can receive timely compensation for medical bills and any lost time at work. Without this paperwork, you may not be able to move forward with your case. 

Do What The Doctor Tells You

As you recover from your injury, it is important to follow your doctor’s orders for recovery. This could include a restriction on your duties at work such as a weight lifting limit or limiting the time you spend on your feet. It is important to remember that your employer cannot force you to break these restrictions while you are recovering. 

You may be put on a light duty job as you recover or given disability benefits until you can return to work. In some cases involving serious injuries, you may be eligible for permanent disability and alternate job skills training. 

Talk To An Experienced Workers' Compensation Lawyer

A consultation with an experienced workers' compensation is free.  It won't cost you anything to get information and learn more about your rights.  You may be eligible for permanent disability benefits after your injury. If you will not make a full recovery or your doctor believes you will always be impaired by your injury, this can be a strong case for permanent benefits. 

A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you get these benefits because they have experience helping others through this process. In many cases, you do not have to pay a lawyer out of pocket other than a small retainer fee to start your case. Instead, their payment will come as part of your compensation from your employer’s insurance. 


Always Remember

If you are injured at work, you are eligible for workers’ compensation. Telling your employer about your injury, seeking medical treatment and doing what the doctor tells you are key to recovering. Then, you must file the paperwork as soon as possible to earn compensation. Workers’ compensation lawyers are also available if you believe you have experienced retaliation for reporting your injury or you do not feel like your employer is helping you with your claim.


Attorney at Law
Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist
By The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

(310) 277-2266       (888) 207-9600

Attorney at Law  |  Professor of Law  |  Certified Specialist  |  Expert Witness  |  Legal Analyst  |  Author 


Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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