After a workplace accident, you have 30 days to notify your employer. You also have one year from the accident to file for workers’ compensation benefits. Do not let missing a workers’ compensation time limit destroy your case.
Deadline to Notify Your Boss
Under California workers’ compensation rules, you must notify your employer within 30 days of the injury or illness. Even if you think your employer knew about the accident when it happened, you should cover yourself by giving them formal notice. The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) warns that missing the deadline could cost you the right to receive benefits under the program.
The time limits can be different if you develop a work-related illness or injury over time rather than through a one-time event like an accident. Your meter starts to run on the date that you initially missed work because of the illness or injury, or the date that your doctor told you that your condition was related to your job.
You will want to put the notice in writing and keep a copy so that you have proof in case notification ever becomes an issue. Also, it is a good idea not to wait until the last minute to give notice. It is better to be a little early than a little late. The best practice is to notify your employer right away.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
In addition to notifying your boss, you will have to complete a workers’ compensation claim form and return the completed form to your employer within one year of the accident. Your boss then must fill out their portion of the claim form and file it with the insurance company from whom they buy their workers’ comp coverage.
You will need this information to fill out your portion of the California workers’ compensation claim form:
- Your identifying information, including your name, mailing address, email address, and Social Security number.
- Information about the accident, including the date and time of the accident and where the event happened.
- A description of the injuries you suffered.
You will have to sign the form before giving it to your employer.
Exceptions to the Usual Time Limits in Workers’ Comp Claims in California
Sometimes, it is not fair or practical to hold an injured worker to the strict deadlines for notifying their employer or filing a workers’ compensation claim. You might be eligible for an extension if you:
- Got quarantined for a contagious illness
- Experienced a coma because of your injury
- Suffered severe wounds that needed lengthy or prolonged treatment
If you could not notify your employer or file a comp claim because of one of these circumstances, you might fall within an exception to the usual deadlines.
What if You Are a Federal Employee?
Almost every employee in California is eligible for coverage under the workers’ compensation program in our state, but federal employees are not eligible because they are covered under the federal employees’ program. The federal program uses different rules, deadlines, and benefits than the California workers’ comp program.
Benefits of Timely Claim Filing When You Have a Work-Related Injury or Illness
When you submit your completed DWC 1 (California Workers’ Compensation Claim) form to your employer within the time limits, you officially start the process of your claim. Starting on that date, according to the DIR, you might qualify for benefits that can include:
- Up to $10,000 for medical treatments while your claim is pending and under consideration by the claims administrator. Your treatment must fall within the guidelines for workers’ compensation-approved medical treatment.
- If the claims administrator does not accept or deny your claim within 90 days of the date you gave the claim form to your employer (with your portion completed), there will be a presumption that your job caused your illness or injury.
- By setting the start date of your claim, you could get an increase in disability payments if they do not get started timely.
- The filed claim form can help to resolve some disputes that might arise between the injured worker and the claims administrator. Some of the common disputes are whether the illness or injury was work-related, whether you qualify for permanent disability payments, and what medical treatment the workers’ compensation program will provide for you.
Your benefits will depend on the circumstances of your situation. For example, if you got hurt at work but were able to continue working while you recuperated, workers’ compensation could provide no-cost medical treatment of your wounds, but you will not have a claim for lost wages in the form of temporary disability benefits.
Types of Workers Comp Benefits in California
There are five types of benefits a worker could receive if they get injured on the job:
- Medical treatments. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier will pay for the initial treatment of your wounds and all the medical care you need to help you get well and back to work. You will not have to pay a co-pay, co-insurance, or deductible. You should not receive a bill for the healthcare services you receive for a qualifying injury. Be sure to tell all medical providers that you have a job-related injury.
- Temporary disability payments. If you cannot work at all while you recuperate from your injury, the workers’ comp coverage will send you checks to help replace some of your lost income. The checks are usually two-thirds of your pre-tax wages, but there are limits. If you earn less money during recuperation, your check can be two-thirds of the difference between your previous and current wages.
- Permanent disability benefits. If you achieve maximum medical improvement but do not recover 100 percent from the illness or injury, your workers’ compensation treating physician will examine you and assess a disability rating which represents the percentage of your disability from one to 100 percent. You can then receive payment for your permanent disability.
- Supplemental job training. If you do not recover 100 percent and do not go back to work for your boss, the program could provide vouchers for you to access education or job skills training.
- Death benefits. Eligible dependents like a spouse or children could get death benefit payments.
If you miss the time limits, you might miss out on these valuable benefits.A workers’ compensation lawyer at the KJT Law Group can explain more about the deadlines in your workers’ compensation case. Just reach out to us at (818) 507-8525 today.