California workers compensation claim forms generally must be filed on time to assure that benefits are paid
Workers compensation claims can be filed by any California employee who suffers a work-related injury or illness. To avoid delays in receiving compensation, however, the claim must be filed on time. Failing to comply with time limits may cause an injured worker to lose the right to recover workers compensation benefits. A Santa Rosa workers’ compensation lawyer can help injured workers keep track of important deadlines.
Reporting an Injury
California injured workers generally have 30 days to report a work-related injury or illness. The injury should be reported in writing to the employer. The failure to report the injury or condition within 30 days may cause the injured worker to lose the right to collect workers compensation benefits.
The injured worker should start by telling a supervisor about the injury. If the employer has designated a particular person or department to receive injury reports, then notify that person or department.
If you need emergency care, take care of your health before you do anything else. But contact your employer as soon as you can, and tell the emergency room doctors that your injury is work-related.
Within one day after learning about a work-related injury or illness, the employer must give the injured worker a claim form. An injured worker should report the injury in writing to the employer within 30 days. However, an injured worker has a right to begin receiving workers’ compensation benefits up to one year from the date of injury. By completing and returning the signed claim form to the employer, however, the injured worker satisfies the obligation to report the injury in writing.
The claim form triggers the insurance company’s duty to investigate the claim, to assign a claims administrator, and to begin paying for medical treatment. For that reason, filing the claim form promptly is very important. Benefits may be delayed if there is a delay in filing the claim form. If the employer fails or refuses to give you a claim form, talk to a Santa Rosa workers’ compensation attorney about what you should do.
Calculating the 30-Day Time Limit
The reporting rule sounds simple, but calculating the 30-day reporting deadline can be difficult. The calculation depends on when the injury or illness occurred and on when the injured worker believed that it was work-related.
Most workplace injuries arise from a specific event. For example, the employee might fall and break an arm, or might hurt his or her back while lifting a heavy object.
When it is easy to identify the event that caused the injury, the timeline for notifying the employer is easy to calculate. Circle the date of the injury on a calendar and count the 30 following days. The 30th day after the date of injury is the reporting deadline.
If more than 30 days have passed since the injury happened, you may still be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. For example, the employer may have learned about the injury from other employees. Report the injury by filing a claim form even if you are late. If the workers’ compensation insurance company refuses to pay compensation, contact a Santa Rosa workers’ compensation lawyer to determine whether you have a remedy.
Reporting a Health Condition or Disease
Some work-related illnesses develop over time. An occupational disease might develop after years of exposure to a toxic substance for instance. Some injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, are caused by repetitive motion. The specific onset date of the condition can be difficult to determine.
As a general rule, an injured worker must report the injury or illness to the employer within 30 days. However, that 30-day period does not begin to run until the injured worker knew, or should have known, that the disease or condition was work-related.
Unfortunately, the cause of the injury or illness (or even its existence) might not always be apparent. Carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, is often confused with arthritis. Cervical radiculopathy (disk compression sometimes caused by cradling a telephone on the neck) might seem like ordinary neck pain.
Injured workers’ often learn the cause of their injury or illness after the cause is suggested by a doctor. If that happens to you, report the condition to your employer right away. Even if your doctor is not entirely certain of the cause, you risk losing your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits if you delay reporting it.
Some injured workers’ are able to make the connection between an inury or illness and their work after doing their own research. As a general rule, as soon as you suspect that the injury or illness was caused by your work, you should report it to your employer.
It is often difficult to persuade a workers’ compensation insurance company to pay compensation for work related injuries or illnesses. It is more difficult for them to deny that an injury is work-related if it occurred at work and was witnessed by coworkers. However, they may deny that an injury or illness is work-related, particularly if it could have multiple causes. Consulting with a Santa Rosa workers’ compensation attorney when you report the condition will put you in a better position to obtain compensation.
Get Legal Help
Reporting an injury, occupational disease, or work-related health condition does not guarantee that you will receive the benefits you deserve. Whenever a dispute arises about workers’ compensation benefits, the Santa Rosa workers’ compensation attorney at Kneisler & Schondel can give you the advice you need. Call us at (707) 542-5132 or ask a question by using our online contact form.