employers responsibility to an injured worker

A Santa Rosa workers’ compensation lawyer can help injured employees when their employers fail to obey California law

After a Sonoma County employee reports a job-related injury, the employer has a number of responsibilities. One purpose of workers’ compensation is to assure that the employer provides the injured employee with appropriate medical care and at least a partial replacement of lost income. Another purpose is to protect the injured worker from retaliation. When employers fail to obey California workers’ compensation law, a workers’ compensation attorney at Kneisler & Schondel can help employees obtain a remedy.

Reporting the Injury

Before a California employer can do anything about a job-related injury, the employer must learn that the injury occurred. To make sure that your employer knows, report the injury to a supervisor as soon as you can.

Your employer must have a procedure for reporting injuries. As soon as you are able, you should tell a supervisor how and when you were injured. When reporting the injury you should request a claim form to put the report of injury in writing. Your employer is required to give you a copy of the claim form you fill out and submit.

Even if you do not require immediate medical treatment, you should report the injury. Some injuries, like a neck or back sprain, get worse over time. If you don’t report the injury when it happens, you might have trouble later proving that the injury was work-related.

If the injury occurred while you were away from your workplace (for example, while you were making a delivery for your employer), contact your employer right away. It is better to call your employer immediately than to wait until you have returned to your place of employment.

If the injury has been developing gradually (such as carpal tunnel syndrome), report the injury as soon as you suspect that it is job-related.

It is important to report your injury as soon it happens. If you delay reporting by more than 30 days, you may lose your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Any delay, however, might weaken your claim for benefits. A delay in reporting might also cause a delay in receiving medical treatment, which could cause your medical condition to worsen.

If your employer denies that your injury is work-related, get advice right away from a Santa Rosa workers’ compensation attorney.

Emergency Medical Treatment

Your employer has an obligation to make sure that medical treatment is available for your injury. If you need an ambulance, call 911. If you need emergency care and can travel on your own (or can arrange a ride), your employer can tell you where to go for treatment.

When you speak to a doctor about your injury, make sure to explain how it happened. You will want to make clear that the injury is work-related so that you are not billed for medical care.

Workers’ Compensation Claim

Every California employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance or to become self-insured. At the time you report your injury, your employer must give you a workers’ compensation claim form. You use this form to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. You should contact a workers’ compensation lawyer in Santa Rosa if your employer refuses to give you the form.

Fill out the “Employee” section of the form. It is important to describe your injury in detail. For example, if you hurt your back but you have been experiencing numbness in your arms since the injury, make sure you describe all the symptoms you are experiencing. If you fail to describe a symptom, the claims administrator may decide that you are inventing the symptom when you mention it later.

After you complete the “Employee” section of the claim form, sign it and give it to your employer. After completing the “Employer” section of the form, your employer will give it to a claims administrator for the company that provides workers’ compensation insurance to your employer’s business.

Your employer must also give you a copy of the completed claim form. Keep the copy because you may need to refer to it later. You will also need to share it with your workers’ compensation lawyer.

Medical Care

Your employer (usually through its insurer) has an obligation to pay for medical care that is reasonably required to treat the injury. You cannot be billed for medical treatment that pertains to a work injury.

With rare exceptions, your employer or an insurance claims administrator will refer you to a medical provider. The insurance company for your employer is required to provide you the medical care you need for your injury, even if it does not agree to accept your claim right away. After the insurance company receives the claim from your employer, it will either accept your claim of injury, deny the claim, or it may delay the decision for 90 days in order to investigate your claim. During those 90 days, the insurance company must continue to pay for your medical care. It must continue to pay until your claim is denied, or until the insurance company pays $10,000 towards your care. Whichever comes first.


Your employer’s legal responsibility includes an obligation not to retaliate against you for sustaining an injury or for making a worker’s compensation claim. The legal rules surrounding the right to return to work can be complex, so be sure to obtain legal advice if your employer refuses to reemploy you after your physician decides you are fit to return to work.

Getting Help

If your employer refuses to cooperate with the workers’ compensation process, or if you experience retaliation for being injured or for making a workers’ compensation claim, you will need the assistance of an experienced worker’s compensation attorney. Call Kneisler & Schondel at (707) 542-5132 or complete our online contact form for a free consultation.