Many workers don't want to report a work-related injury because they fear the costs. They don't want to pay for medical care, lawyer fees or lose their job, so they feel it isn't worth it to file a claim. It is important to understand that if injured on-the-job, you shouldn't have to pay for anything.
In California, medical care is covered under workers' compensation. This means that your employer is required by law to pay for medical treatment for your work injury. Workers' compensation also includes:
- Temporary disability
- Permanent disability
- Supplemental job training
- Death benefits
It is important that you report your injury as soon as possible. If you wait to report the injury or get medical treatment, the employer or insurance company might say that your injury isn't as bad as it is, and that can hurt your workers' comp claim.
Additionally, there is a statue of limitations, or a time limit, for receiving workers' compensation. This is why as soon as you believe you've been injured due to a work-related accident, you need to let your employer know.
If a medical emergency prevents you from informing your employer right away, notify your employer as soon as possible after you get emergency treatment.
Once you report the injury to your employer, they will most likely ask you visit one of their preapproved doctors. You are allowed to visit your own doctor to get a second opinion, but your employer may not be required to pay for that visit.
If you have questions about any of these matters, it is a good idea to speak with a workers' comp attorney.
Lawyer fees paid on contingency
Workers' compensation lawyers typically collect fees on a contingency basis. This means that you will only pay your lawyer if they win your case. A workers' comp attorney is highly beneficial to have by your side, especially if you are having troubles with your employer or the insurance company. Not everyone fights fair, and your employer or the insurer may try to take advantage of you.
A lawyer will help ensure that you receive all of the workers' comp benefits to which you are entitled. A workers' compensation attorney can represent you at every stage of the case while you focus on healing.
Fear of losing your job
In California, it would be illegal for your employer to fire you for filing a claim for workers' compensation. It is also illegal for your employer or coworkers to discriminate or punish you for filing a claim.
Bottom line: a work injury shouldn't cost you a dime. Your employer should cover all medical and wage-loss expenses, and an experienced workers' compensation lawyer can help ensure that happens.