A Worker’s Guide to Workers’ Comp Part I: I Was Injured at Work!

If You Need Emergency Medical Assistance, Dial 9-1-1


This guide is intended for employees who wants to know what to do if they sustain a workplace injury or illness. This article series goes beyond the moment of injury, and gives a picture of what to expect when choosing a doctor, getting treatment, and beyond. This guide is specific to California, but many of the steps described cross state lines.

If your claim has already been filed and approved, and you still have questions about the workers’ comp process, check out part 2 of this series.

Workers’ compensation is a huge industry involving doctors, lawyers, employers, insurance adjusters, government employees, and more. Generally, the one who knows least about workers’ comp is the worker themselves. With a little knowledge about the workers’ comp process, the injured employee will know what to do and what to look out for if they are suddenly hurled into a claim.

Taking Precautions

It goes without saying that paying attention to yourself and your surroundings can reduce the likelihood of workplace injuries. That being said, even when practicing all the precautions and preparations in the world, accidents still happen.

Notify Your Employer

Notify your employer that there has been an injury (or illness) in the workplace as soon as soon as possible.

It is important to keep the employer in the loop as much as possible about what is happening. Failing to notify an employer about a workplace injury or illness at the time it happens may result in negative outcomes further down the line.

Take Care of Your Injury or Illness Now

As soon as you inform your employer, handle the injury as if it happened at home or anywhere else. Do you need to go to the emergency room? Do you need an ambulance?

Alternatively, if you’ve developed a sickness or bodily condition due to workplace conditions over time, do you need to schedule a doctor’s appointment?

Filing a Claim

You must file a workers’ compensation claim in order to receive benefits. If you are able to remain on the job site with your employer, you should fill out a claim form immediately.

On the claim form is a section for the employee, and a section for the employer. Fill out the employee section of the form and make a copy or take a picture. Your employer must send the form to the insurance adjuster within one working day of filling out the form.

If you have to leave the job site before filling out a claim form for emergency purposes, your employer is required to provide you a claim form within 1 day of the injury. If you haven’t received this form for any reason, you can download and print the claim form here (for California only). After filling out your section of the form, remember to make a copy or take a picture of the form, and send off the original copy to your employer.

Does this Really Count as a Work Injury?

If uncertain about whether the situation requires workers’ compensation, you need to discuss this with your human resource (HR) contact and they can consult the workers’ compensation insurance carrier for next steps. RateFast’s own Dr. John Alchemy has given the run-down as to when injuries are recordable, or when they simply require first aid.

Be aware that if you file a claim for an injury that did not happen, or if you are exaggerating to get out of work and receive benefits, this is workers’ compensation fraud, which can result in a felony offense, jail time, and thousands of dollars in penalties.

Going Forward

In the next installment in this series, we will discuss the injured workers’ PTP (Primary Treating Physician), or, the doctor assigned to the claim. we will also discuss what to expect during the course of the treatment, and how much the injured worker can expect to get paid if they must take time off work.

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