Getting injured at work can be an overwhelming and confusing experience. Here are a few FAQ's according to the California Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC).
If you have a work-related injury or illness, your employer is required by law to pay for workers' compensation benefits. You could get hurt by:
One event at work, such as hurting your back in a fall, getting burned by a chemical that splashes on your skin or getting hurt in a car accident while making deliveries.
Repeated exposures at work, such as hurting your wrist from doing the same motion over and over or losing your hearing because of constant loud noise.
Report the injury to your employer by telling your supervisor right away. If your injury or illness developed over time, report it as soon as you learn or believe it was caused by your job.
Reporting promptly helps prevent problems and delays in receiving benefits, including medical care you may need. If your employer does not learn about your injury within 30 days and this prevents your employer from fully investigating the injury and how you were injured, you could lose your right to receive workers' compensation benefits.
Get emergency treatment if you need it. Your employer may tell you where to go for treatment. Tell the health care provider who treats you that your injury or illness is job-related.
Fill out a claim form and give it to your employer. Your employer must give or mail you a claim form within one working day after learning about your injury or illness. If your employer doesn't give you the claim form you can download it from the forms page of the DWC website.
Yes. Giving the completed form to your employer opens your workers' compensation case. It starts the process for finding all benefits you may qualify for under state law. Those benefits include, but are not limited to:
- A presumption that your injury or illness was caused by work if your claim is not accepted or denied within 90 days of giving the completed claim form to your employer
- Up to $10,000 in treatment under medical treatment guidelines while the claims administrator considers your claim
- An increase in your disability payments if they're late
- A way to resolve any disagreements between you and the claims administrator over whether your injury or illness happened on the job, the medical treatment you receive and whether you will receive permanent disability benefits.
Workers' comp insurance provides five basic benefits:
- Medical care: Paid for by your employer to help you recover from an injury or illness caused by work
- Temporary disability benefits: Payments if you lose wages because your injury prevents you from doing your usual job while recovering
- Permanent disability benefits: Payments if you don't recover completely
- Supplemental job displacement benefits (if your date of injury is in 2004 or later): Vouchers to help pay for retraining or skill enhancement if you don't recover completely and don't return to work for your employer
- Death benefits: Payments to your spouse, children or other dependents if you die from a job injury or illness.
In California all employers are required to either purchase a workers' compensation insurance policy from a licensed insurer authorized to write policies in California or become self insured. The DWC does not provide workers' compensation insurance for employers and does not maintain information about employers and their respective insurers. To find out which insurer provides workers' compensation insurance for a specific employer, visit the California Workers' Compensation Coverage website. The roster of self-insured employers can be found on the Self Insurance Plans Web page.
More information about workers' compensation can be found on the DWC's Web page for injured workers.
There is no set definition of this term. Labor law enforcement agencies and the courts look at several factors when deciding if someone is an employee or an independent contractor. Some employers misclassify employees as an independent contractor to avoid workers' compensation and other payroll responsibilities. Just because an employer says you are an independent contractor and doesn't need to cover you under a workers' compensation policy, doesn't make it true. A true independent contractor has control over how their work is done. You probably are not an independent contractor when the person paying you:
- Controls the details or manner of your work
- Has the right to terminate you
- Pays you an hourly wage or salary
- Makes deductions for unemployment or social security
- Supplies materials or tools
- Requires you to work specific days or hours.