California workers’ compensation laws have very strict requirements for injured workers to report their injuries to their employers and to do so within certain time limits. Otherwise, the injured worker may be barred from asserting a worker’s compensation claim.
You have been injured at work, or perhaps you simply believe that you may have suffered an injury but you are not certain. Now what are you supposed to do? Most importantly, tell someone of authority, higher up in the company, right away. This can be a foreman, a supervisor, a manager, or anyone higher up than you in the company. Even if you merely suspect that you may have suffered an injury while at work but are not certain of that, report it, just to be safe. Generally, co-workers and people below you in the company do not count for purposes of reporting an injury or possible injury.
In California, if you fail to report your injury within 30 days of a specific injury or from when you first noticed a cumulative injury caused by your work, and your failure somehow prevents your employer from properly investigating the injury, you may be denied worker’s compensation benefits.
Another purpose of reporting an injury or a possible injury is to put your employer “on notice.” It gives them notice, or tells them that you might have a worker’s compensation claim. This is significant because a worker’s compensation claim is generally disallowed if it is filed after a layoff or termination from work. If you just happen to get laid off or terminated before you file your worker’s compensation claim, your claim will be barred.
However, there are limited exceptions for filing a late claim. If you gave your employer notice of your injury or possible injury before you were laid off or fired, you can still file your actual claim even after the layoff or termination.
Be careful, a tactic used commonly by employers in an attempt to avoid having to deal with workers’ compensation claims is to lay off the worker, claiming a sudden lack of work. In fact, it is unlawful for an employer to layoff or terminate an injured worker as retaliation for the filing of a worker’s compensation claim. If this is something that you have experienced, you may very well have the right to make additional claims and seek certain penalties against your employer.
DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind that this article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You are expressly advised to seek legal counsel if you have questions about your particular workers’ compensation claim.