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What should I do if I get hurt at work?

An injury suffered at work can be devastating and negatively impact an individual's physical and mental health as well as one's quality of life and ability to work. Thankfully, workers’ compensation laws exist to protect employees who suffer injuries at work or while performing work-related duties.

From a truck driver who is injured in a serious motor vehicle accident to an office worker who over time develops carpal tunnel syndrome, anyone of any age can suffer work-related injuries. In many cases, an individual suffering from a painful injury may seek medical treatment and miss days or weeks of work. In other cases, a work injury may force an individual to reduce work hours or change work assignments. For California employees dealing with a work injury, it's important to understand the basics of workers' compensation and how to file a claim.

An injured worker must take action to notify an employer of his or her injury as soon as possible. To report and document details related to a work injury, an individual must fill out a Workers' Compensation Claim Form. A worker should seek medical care from an employer-approved doctor who can assess his or her injuries and provide an appropriate care and treatment plan. Under California's workers' compensation law, employers must pay for medical-related treatments that are “reasonably required to cure or relieve the effects of the injury."

Once a worker has an open workers' compensation claim, it's important to keep track of all claim-related matters including medical records, out-of-pocket expenses and pay stubs that document pre-and post-injury wages. It's also important to keep detailed notes about an injury and any progress or set-backs related to an individual's recovery.

In cases where an employer denies a workers' compensation claim or disputes the payment of certain expenses related to a work injury, it's wise to consult with an attorney who handles workers' compensation matters. Workers' compensation laws are complex and an attorney who has successfully helped injured workers recover fair compensation can answer questions and assist with a disputed claim.

Source: State of California Department of Industrial Relations: "Workers’ Compensation in California: A Guidebook for Injured Workers," 2014

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