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Questions and answers about workers’ compensation and injuries on the job

In every field or profession, there is a chance that you can be injured on the job. Sometimes these injuries are basic and easily treated while others can put you in the hospital and completely change the course of your life. Most companies use workers’ compensation insurance to help cover the financial costs when an employee is injured on the job, but it’s important that the employee understands the basics of how the process works.

Can I avoid getting hurt while working?

In California, all employers must have an illness and injury prevention program that includes workplace inspections, worker training and specific procedures for dealing with unsafe conditions quickly and promptly. All unsafe conditions should be reported quickly to your employer, and all employees should be involved in their employer’s program. If the employer does not respond to requests for more information, the employee should call the state agency tasked with enforcing safety and health laws, Cal/OSHA.

How do I handle a workplace injury?

Whenever an injury occurs on the job, it should be immediately reported to a supervisor or employer. If the problem developed over time as you did your job, it should be disclosed as soon as it is diagnosed if you believe it was caused by your job.

Medical care is easier to receive if the injury is disclosed quickly. The employer will likely investigate how the injury occurred and how extensive it is, and if it isn’t reported within 30 days, workers’ compensation benefits may be forfeited.

Anytime an injury occurs, an employee should seek medical care immediately and explain to the health care professional that the injury or accident occurred on the job. You may receive specific instructions from your employer about where to receive treatment.

Once you have received appropriate medical treatment, your employer will ask you to fill out a claim form and turn it in. Your employer is required to either mail the form or personally give it to you within one working day of the time the illness or injury occurred.

What benefits do I get?

Every situation is different, but typically workers’ compensation will cover permanent disability benefits, death benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits, temporary disability benefits and medical care. Every employee should be aware of his or her rights and responsibilities when it comes to workplace illnesses and injuries.