If you suffer an injury on the job, you may feel fortunate that your California employer carries workers' compensation insurance. A successful claim means coverage for your medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation and other expenses, which can protect you and your family from falling into financial crisis while you recover.
However, you may be uncertain how you can claim the benefits you deserve after a workplace injury. Taking the proper steps is critical to avoid missing out on the essential coverage workers' comp offers. Your employer should have information about this process readily available to you so you know what you can expect from the moment you suffer an injury or work-related illness.
Getting the most of workers' comp benefits
Workers' compensation provides benefits for you regardless of who is at fault for the accident that resulted in your injuries. This means you do not have to go through the process of collecting evidence against your employer to prove he or she acted negligently. However, you do have to meet the deadlines for notifying your employer of your injuries and applying for benefits.
As soon as you realize you have suffered an injury, let your supervisor know or send a co-worker to tell your supervisor if your injuries prevent you from doing so. Your employer is then responsible for ensuring you get the medical attention you need and keeping you safe from further injury. Once you are under medical care, your employer must begin the process of filing for your workers' compensation claim. Some of the benefits you may receive include coverage for the following:
- Doctor bills, including emergency room physicians
- Diagnostic tests
- Prescription medications
- Mileage to your treatment facility
- Physical therapy
- A portion of your gross pay
- Awards for disability, whether total or partial, if needed
- Vocational rehabilitation, if needed
Vocational rehabilitation will help you return to the workforce if your injuries prevent you from resuming your old job. You may qualify for other benefits, depending on your circumstances. Of course, you must do your part, including following doctor's orders and completing any requirements the insurer asks. However, you may find that despite your good efforts, the insurer is less than willing to approve the benefits you need. For this reason, many injured workers contact a legal professional during the earliest steps of the workers' compensation process.