Many people are only vaguely aware that the workers compensation system in California even exists. Often, they only become aware of it after they suffer an injury. It is a little known fact among workers, even union workers, that you can pre-designate who you want to treat you before you are injured. Doing so can be your best protection in the event that you are hurt. You need to get the agreement of the doctor that he or she will serve as your primary treating doctor if you get hurt at work. If you do not do this in advance and advise your employer in writing that you are predesignating a doctor in the event of a workplace injury, you will often be required to be treated by a doctor off a list selected by your employer-a company doctor.
Steps to take After Your Workplace Injury:
If you do get hurt be sure to complete the following tasks and the required paperwork.
1) Make note of who saw the injury. Get statements from coworkers and bystanders.
2) Take a photo. If you are injured by a piece of machinery or a feature of the workplace, snap some photos with your phone just in case there are questions later on about what happened. You would rather be safe than sorry.
3) Report the injury. Be sure to report the injury to your employer.
5) Fill out the form. The worker fills out the top of the form. It is pretty basic. You supply your name, address, date of injury, body parts injured and how it happened.
6) Employer then fills out the form. Your employer is then obliged to fill out the bottom of the form with the name and contact information for the workers compensation insurer on the date of injury.
7) Employer provides medical treatment. The employer then has an obligation to provide medical treatment if the worker requests it.
I have seen cases where workers who want to placate their employers wait to report an injury because they think that they can shake it off. Doing so may later mean that the claim is denied by the insurance company. At the bare minimum make sure to tell your supervisor and co-workers that you have been hurt. Once you are sure that your injury is not going away be sure to report it and fill out the required paperwork.
8) Get treated by a doctor. Absent pre-designation of a physician, the worker is obliged to be treated with a doctor selected by the insurance company for the first 30 days. After that you can select any doctor on the insurer’s medical provider network.
Some medical provider networks do not have doctors who will advocate for the injured workers. Some have doctors who will advocate for the worker and provide excellent treatment. If you need help deciding who to choose off the list, talk to an attorney who specializes in workers compensation law. They will often know who is good on the list and who is in the pocket of the insurer.
9) Report all injuries to your doctor. Once you see a doctor, be sure to tell the doctor all of the areas where you are hurt. If it is not in the initial medical reports, getting your injuries treated later on down the line will be much more difficult.
10) Contact an attorney for help. Many people have asked me over the years if it is a good idea to retain the services of a lawyer when you get hurt at work. I have told them that not having an attorney in a serious injury case is like playing poker while not knowing the rules when the other party does know the rules. The odds of you being fully compensated under these circumstances is slim.
If you have questions or concerns about your workplace injury, do not hesitate to contact a Butler Viadro attorney for a free consultation. We can help guide you through the legal process and help get you the medical treatment you need to get back to work.