At Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld, our Santa Barbara workers’ compensation lawyers have protected the rights of California workers since 1956. Our experience allows us to share helpful insight with our clients, helping them avoid the significant pitfalls associated with more than filing a workers’ compensation claim but securing the benefits they are entitled to.
How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Filing a California Workers’ Compensation Claim
When a California employee is injured, they can claim workers’ compensation benefits through their employer. However, the potential pitfalls leading to an unsuccessful claim can begin immediately after the accident.
Even the slightest error can delay or reduce the settlement, and some mistakes may keep employees from receiving workers’ compensation benefits altogether.
- Failing to Report the Workplace Injury to the Employer
All California employers are required to complete a DWC-1 Claim Form to describe the accident and injury. If the employee fails to report the injury, the employer has no record of it and cannot review its legitimacy or submit it to the insurance provider for review. This means medical expenses and potential wage replacement benefits will go unpaid.
- Missing Required California Workers’ Compensation Filing Deadlines
To file a workers’ compensation claim in California, employees should notify their employer about their occupational injury within 30 days of the accident and seek medical treatment from an approved provider in their employer's workers’ compensation insurance network, when applicable.
- Failing to Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Delaying medical treatment gives an employer and insurance provider reasonable doubt about workplace injury or illness severity. Like failing to report the injury, avoiding medical treatment means no way to prove an injury or illness occurred.
In addition, avoiding prompt medical assistance can worsen the injury or illness, develop into another more serious condition, or become permanent.
- Failing to Follow the Medical Provider’s Treatment Plan
Seeking medical treatment is one thing. Failing to follow the treatment plan, including attending follow-up appointments, rehabilitation, or therapy, will give the insurer doubt that the injury was as severe as initially described, which may give them cause to cancel the benefits.
- Discussing a Workers’ Compensation Injury or Claim with Anyone Besides a Physician or Attorney
If you are pursuing a workers’ compensation claim in California, it is essential to only discuss your injuries with your physicians or an attorney.
Do not discuss your injuries on social media with friends or family members. Consider your workers’ compensation injuries, claim, and recovery confidential.
Avoid saying things like, “I am fine,” or minimize or downplay your pain, discomfort, loss of mobility, or other symptoms that affect your daily activities, mental health, or your recovery in any way. The insurance provider can misconstrue this as a sign that you are well and that your benefits should cease.
- Pursuing a Claim Without Advice from an Experienced California Workers’ Compensation Attorney
California workers’ compensation claims may seem straightforward, especially when the employer cooperates fully with the guidelines and processes, allowing the injured employee to seek medical care and take the time they need away from work.
However, the next step is for the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company to review the claim. Like most insurance companies, they aim to part with as little money as possible — even if you have extensive, well-documented injuries.
At Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld, our California workers’ compensation attorneys provide free consultations for all workers, and there is never a fee for our legal services unless we win your claim. Allow us to take the lead in your workers’ compensation claim so you can focus on regaining control of your life.
We have six physical offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, and Visalia, and our top-tier technologies provide a virtual reach to serve clients throughout California. We offer free in-person, telephone, and virtual consultations to offer straightforward legal advice for your unique needs. Contact us today to learn more.