Worker's compensation in California follows rules designed to help employees pay for job-related injuries. While each case is reviewed to determine compensation, it's important to understand how the system works so that you will be prepared in case you need to file a worker's comp claim.
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How the System Is Funded
Employer contributions are used as insurance to finance worker's compensation. By paying damages through worker's compensation, employers protect themselves from being held liable for damages. It also provides insurance for employees if they are ever hurt on the job. All victims who experience injury in the workplace may file claims to receive reimbursement of medical bills and cash benefits to offset lost wages.
Filing a Claim
The employee needs to inform the employer within 24 hours of the injury, and must file an application of adjudication of claim within 1 year of the date of injury or the last date of medical treatment provided by the employer under their worker’s compensation insurance coverage. Your employer may send you to a doctor within the company's medical provider network. Otherwise, you may be allowed to choose your own doctor. You will need to see a physician to document your injury and assess the treatment that is needed.
In the event your employer does not offer worker's compensation, you can file a lawsuit against your employer in civil court to recover lost wages and court expenses, as well as damages for pain and suffering. You are also entitled to file a worker’s compensation claim via the California Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund.
You will need an experienced attorney to help you with these actions. It is also important to have legal counsel in case your claim is contested by the employer, in which you will need to meet with an impartial physician to assess your injuries.