If you have recently suffered a work-related injury or have developed a work-related illness, you may be – very understandably – worrying about the costs of your medical care. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may also be concerned about losing income if you need to take time away from your job to recover.
Thankfully, most workers in California – documented and undocumented individuals alike – are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. As a result, it is likely that you’re entitled to compensation for your work-related physical harm. It’s important to act quickly to preserve your access to these benefits, however. Filing for workers’ compensation benefits is an unusually time-sensitive process.
What are the first steps?
The first step that needs to be taken is one that you’ve likely already completed. Before you can apply for workers’ compensation benefits, you’ll need to confirm that your injury or illness is work-related. Injuries resulting from on-site accidents tend to have obvious work-related causes. But some repetitive job injuries and offsite harm may need to be sufficiently linked to work before an employee can receive their rightful compensation.
Next, you’ll need to report your harm to your employer. You’ll need to take this step within 30 days of sustaining acute harm or identifying the causal link between work and a repetitive job injury or any application you may file for benefits will likely be denied.
What are the next steps?
Technically, you have up to one year to submit an application for benefits. Although, you can’t lose sight of that initial 30-day notification deadline or this one-year timeframe won’t matter.
Researching your rights as detailed in your workers’ compensation coverage and state law will help to ensure that every step you take that is related to this process is informed. In all manner of employment laws, it is safe to assume that knowledge is power.