Not all workplace injuries are instantly obvious or get automatically reported. Many will, of course, especially in the case of catastrophic injuries and accidents that mean work grinds to a halt and everyone responds to the incident. But these major catastrophes are not as common as smaller accidents that workers need to report to their supervisors.
If you do get injured and no one knows about it right away, save for coworkers who may have been around at the time, how fast do you need to move forward with this process? Is there any risk in waiting to make that report?
Report your injury in the next month, starting at the date of the incident
As a general rule, you have a month to make your report. More specifically, starting after you get hurt, you have 30 days. You must report the injury before those days are up. Per the California Department of Industrial Relations, failure to do so could mean that you ”lose your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.”
In a practical sense, you probably want to move much faster than that. If you need medical treatment and you want to work with your employer to find out where you should go, anticipating that the costs are going to be covered, you may make your report immediately. Many incidents and injuries get reported in the first 24 hours.
Making your report as quickly as possible helps you avoid disputes, as well. A doctor can give you medical records that show you were injured on precisely the day that the accident happened. These can assist in showing that it really was an on-the-job injury and not something that happened at home. This doesn’t mean there’s no chance of a denial or a dispute, but you want those odds to be as low as possible. A quick report, then, can help you advance the workers’ compensation process even as you’re learning what type of treatment you’ll need and how long you’ll be out of work.
Navigating the legal process
Making your report is just the first step in the legal process. Make sure you know exactly what steps come next.