The workers’ compensation system is designed to provide injured employees with benefits in return for employees relinquishing their right to sue their employer for what occurred, states the American Bar Association. While many employees in California recognize that after they are hurt on the job they should seek emergency medical care and tell their employer what happened, many are unsure of what happens next.
FILL OUT A DWC 1
Once the accident has been reported, employees must be given a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC 1) by their employer within one day of the accident being reported, states the California Department of Industrial Relations. Injured workers should fill out the “employee” portion of this form and describe their injury thoroughly before returning it to their employer. This part of the claims process should be completed as soon as possible to minimize potential problems.
After this important form has been completed, injured employees should continue to seek medical care from their primary treating physician. This medical professional is responsible for referring injured workers to specialists, writing medical reports, determining when work can be resumed and deciding what kinds of work can be performed during the recovery process.
THE EMPLOYER’S ROLE
Following the completion of the DWC 1, injured workers must have their employer fill out his or her section of this form and submit it to the claims administrator. After this has been done, it is up to the claims administrator to determine if the workers’ compensation claim will be accepted or denied within a reasonable timeframe. In most cases, if injured employees do not receive a letter regarding the approval or denial of their claim within 90 days, the claim is considered to have been accepted.
KEEPING A CLAIM ON TRACK
Once the DWC 1 is filled out and submitted to the claims administrator, there are several things injured employees can do to keep the claims process on track. These include some of the following:
Workers should take notes anytime they discuss their claim with another person.
Injured employees should find copies of pay stubs and time sheets from before the accident occurred.
Records of any expenses that workers’ compensation could cover, such as travel costs for getting to medical appointments and prescriptions, should be kept.
Employees who were injured in a workplace accident in California may also benefit from seeking the assistance of an attorney. This way, workers can ensure all deadlines are met and that their rights are protected throughout the claims process.