In 2019, more than 100,000 workers in California’s private sector experienced work-related injuries or illnesses. Of those, more than 36,000 worked in transportation, trade and utilities and more than 18,000 worked in education and health services. More than 11,000 worked in construction and more than 10,000 manufacturing.
Sprains, strains and tears were the most common nonfatal work-related injuries reported in the private sector last year. General soreness and pain ranked next, followed by cuts, lacerations and puncture wounds, and bruises and contusions.
Chances are, you may get hurt at work, too. So what should you do if that happens? Here are five steps to follow if you are injured on the job.
Make sure your employer knows what happened
One of the first and most important things to do if you are hurt at work is to let someone know as soon as possible.
Ideally, you should tell your direct supervisor or someone in human resources immediately after you get hurt in a work-related accident. However, symptoms of a work-related injury are not always immediately apparent. In this case, report the injury as soon as you discover or suspect it is work related.
Prompt reporting facilitates the workers’ compensation claim process and ensures that you receive applicable benefits. In California, you usually have just 30 days to report your injury. You may forfeit your right to workers’ compensation benefits if you fail to meet this deadline.
Seek medical attention
If you are seriously injured on the job and you need immediate medical attention, call 9-1-1 or go to the Emergency Room. Be sure to let the medical staff know that you got hurt at work, or while performing a job-related task. If possible, contact your employer as well.
If you are not in immediate need of medical treatment, ask your employer if you should see a doctor in their network instead of your own. You can also find this information on the posters California employers are legally obligated to display in every workplace or jobsite.
Specifically, these posters must advise employees which healthcare provider, if any, your company uses for the treatment of employees’ work-related injuries and illnesses. If there is a designated provider, you will simply see a primary care physician there.
Having said that, you may be able to see your own doctor in certain circumstances. This may be possible if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You have group health insurance through work
- You pre-designated a doctor to treat work-related injuries or illnesses in writing before you were hurt.
- Your doctor agreed in advance to treat you for any work-related injuries or illnesses.
Complete and submit a workers’ compensation claim form
Your Los Angeles area employer must give you a workers’ compensation claim form within 24 hours after you report your injury. Complete the relevant portion and then return it to your employer, who will fill out the rest send it to the workers’ compensation insurance company. Once it has the form the insurer will assign an administrator to manage your claim.
Listen to the doctor
As you recover from your work-related injury, is important to avoid the temptation – or pressure – to return to work too soon. Once you do go back to work, it is also important that you don’t do anything contrary to your doctor’s recommendations.
The best way to ensure that you do not exacerbate your injury or otherwise delay your recover is to do as the doctor says. Consult an employment or workers’ compensation attorney if your employer pressures you to return to work or do work-related tasks before you are medically cleared to do so.
Seek legal advice
The employment lawyers at the Law Office of Parag L. Amin P.C. may be able to help you if you were hurt at work and you:
- Have questions about your rights under state and federal workers’ compensation laws.
- Have been told your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance.
- Learned your workers’ compensation claim was denied.
- Are curious about legal remedies other than workers’ compensation.