How do I file a workers’ compensation claim in California?

Steven W. Martin - Civil Litigation - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Steven W. Martin

Martin Esquire & Associates, APC
San Diego, CA
Phone: 619-736-9885
Fax: 619-908-1131

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First and foremost, have you reported your injury to your employer? That’s the first thing you want to do. Your employer is then legally obligated to give you a claim form, which both you and your employer fill out and sign. In workers compensation you have one year from the time of the injury to report the injury to your employer, however the sooner you report the injury the better. Once you make your employer aware of your injury within the one-year statute of limitations, you have at least documented the injury and your right to pursue it.

I’ve heard that this process is complicated; can I do it myself?

There are many steps to filing a claim, and it is a complicated process requiring specific forms to be filed with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (The Workers’ Compensation Court). A workers’ compensation attorney has these forms and can walk you through this process. The other advantage of working with an attorney is that he or she will help facilitate treatment and get you to a trustworthy doctor who is not in the pocket of the insurance company.

If you are denied medical treatment, an attorney knows the steps to take to move your case forward or seek other means of treatment. If you do not have an attorney, you will have to deal with the adjuster who may or may not know the law and who may or may not give you the correct advice to getting you the treatment you need.  Furthermore you will be left trying to hurdle this complicated system on your own.

Can I still file a worker’s compensation claim if I am partially at fault?

The workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system: It does not matter whether you, your employer, or a third party did something to cause your injury. All that matters is you were injured in the job. All you have to prove is you were injured on the job to be entitled to compensation and recovery. For example if you were driving a delivery van for work and were in an accident, it doesn’t matter if you caused the accident or not, you are still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.  Or for another example should you be on a construction site and a co-worker drops a hammer on your toe, you would be entitled to treatment despite your co-worker having caused the injury.

If you were injured on the job – no matter how – the best thing you can do is talk to an attorney who focuses on workers’ compensation claims. An attorney will work to protect you and your family and to get you the compensation and medical treatment you need. One thing to note is that workers’ compensation is a very specialized area of law, so be sure to work with an attorney who focuses his or her efforts in this area of law, otherwise you could be getting incorrect or bad advice.

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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