Seeking compensation for an injury you sustained on the job can be an intimidating process. Many people are worried about their employers’ reactions to their claim or feel like they can’t take time off of work to recover from an illness or wound. Here are a few frequently asked questions that may address some of your concerns.
Is My Injury Covered?
If you were harmed in the course of your job, your injury should be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. A good rule of thumb is, if you’re being paid to be somewhere, any injury you incur as a result will likely be compensated. For example, driving to and from work is commuting on your own time. If you’re involved in an accident on the way, your medical care wouldn’t be covered by your employer because you weren’t on the clock yet. However, if you’re driving on the way to a client’s house, that is paid time. Your car accident injuries would most likely be paid for by the company’s insurance. On the other hand, if you’re an independent contractor, you may need to provide your own workers’ comp coverage.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
Each state has a statute of limitations, which is a time limit placed on filing claims. State statutes of limitations vary, but in California, the statute of limitations is 1 year from the date of injury (DOI). There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as:
- You didn’t discover the damage until a later date
- You’re under 18
- You weren’t provided a DWC-1 Claim Form upon reporting the injury
- The insurance carrier provides medical treatment to you
When Should I Hire an Attorney?
You may not need to hire a workers’ comp lawyer from day one, but you should probably consult one. An attorney familiar with the claims-filing process can assist you in finding the correct forms and submit them to the correct place before the deadline. However, if your claim is denied either by the insurance company or by your employer, you will need to hire a lawyer to defend your compensation rights. A great workers’ comp attorney can help you through the appeals process.
What Should I Do If My Claim Is Denied?
You definitely should hire a lawyer if your petition for compensation is rejected. Denied claims are not that uncommon; insurance companies will use any excuse not to have to pay your expenses while you heal. An attorney can help you file an appeal and can be your representative when your case is reviewed by a judge. A lawyer can also help you appeal the judge’s decision if the court rules against you.
When Can I Apply for Long-Term Disability?
Your insurance policy will specify what constitutes a long-term disability. Some policies cover workers who can no longer perform their duties at all because of their injury, while others only provide long-term coverage for workers who can no longer perform any duties. The latter kind of policy is more severe because the illness or injury must be considered so debilitating the employee can no longer work at all, even a stationary job. Contact your employer’s insurance company to ask about which kind of coverage they offer.
Can My Employer Fire Me for Filing a Claim?
Your employer could try and terminate you, but you are protected under the law. California businesses usually hire under an at-will employment doctrine, meaning employers can fire you for any reason at any time. However, this doesn’t apply when the company dismisses you in retaliation for an action you can legally take. For example, if you’re a whistleblower against your employer, he or she can’t then let you go for reporting their illegal activities. Similarly, you have a protected right to file a workers’ compensation claim if you were injured on the clock. So, if your boss tries to fire you because you’ve begun filing a claim, call us to start legal proceedings immediately. The law is on your side.
Make sure you fully understand your rights as a worker. If you were injured on the job, it is your right to be covered by your employer’s insurance. Contact us at (818) 403-3737 or fill out our online form to speak to a great Woodland Hills workers’ compensation lawyer.