If you’ve been injured on the job in California, you have a right to workers’ compensation benefits to help you pay for the cost of recovery, lost wages or disability. But if you wait too long to pursue a claim, you may end up missing out on this essential benefit that can be crucial for getting your life back on track.
Tell your employer first
Your first stop, aside from the hospital if you’ve been seriously hurt, should be your employer. If you plan to make a workers’ compensation claim, you have 30 days from the date of the injury to inform your employer that you’ve been hurt. If you miss this window, you may not be able to file a claim, and at the very least it will be more difficult for you to make your case.
File a claim within a year
After having notified your employer of your work-related injury, you have a year from the time of the injury to file a workers’ compensation claim. As with the employer notification period, if you miss this one-year window of opportunity, you may forfeit your right to file a claim.
While it is relatively easy to determine the date of injury if you break your leg or are burned in an explosion at work, it can be harder to determine the precise date if an injury happens over time, such as the case with illness from occupational exposure, or with repetitive stress injuries. In these cases, the date of injury is considered to be the date at which a worker becomes aware of, or should have become aware of an injury that was likely the result of a work condition. You would then have 30 days from that date to report the injury to your employer, and a year from that date to file a workers’ compensation claim.