If you have suffered a workplace accident, chances are you are as concerned about your financial situation as you are about your physical wellbeing. A work injury means medical expenses that may include multiple doctor visits, medication, physical therapy and perhaps even surgical procedures. You are likely to miss work, and even a few days off the clock can have a drastic impact on your budget.
Fortunately, most employers in California must carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees who suffer injuries on the job. Workers’ comp covers your medical bills related to your accident and a portion of your lost wages. If your injury results in temporary or permanent disability, workers’ comp offers benefits based on your pay. However, receiving any of these benefits takes time.
The claims process
After an injury, your boss is not likely to immediately write you a check for your medical bills. In fact, you are probably going to go through a lengthy process through which the insurer will investigate the claim for fraud. The claims process begins with you reporting your injury and filing a claim. You have a limited time in which to do this if you intend to seek workers’ comp benefits. While this is happening, you will receive no pay from the insurer.
The exception to this is if you suffer an injury at work that does not lead to missed time on the job, such as a cut that requires stitches. Workers’ compensation will pay for your medical care, but you will not receive additional payments since you are not disabled and did not lose any wages because of the injury.
Waiting for your benefits
In California, you should receive your first workers’ comp disability payment within two weeks of a doctor diagnosing you with a disabling injury or of the time when you inform your employer of your injury. Even though you will not receive a payment for those days during the waiting period, your first check should include those missed payments.
Determining how long your disability payments will last involves dealing with doctors and the insurance company. However, it is important to remember that workers’ comp insurers are like any other business. They want to minimize their payouts. This is one reason why understanding your rights as an employee when it comes to workers’ comp is wise.