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Know Your Rights

We strongly advise that you do the following after a work related injury:

1. REPORT YOUR INJURY.

Your supervisor or boss needs to know about your accident right away. Your supervisor or boss is required to give you a claim form (called a DWC-1).  This form will protect you in the process.

2. GO TO A DOCTOR. 

Demand that your employer send you to a doctor.  Your employer is obligated to give you information about where to seek treatment.  Your health is not only important to you but to your family as well. Do not assume that only serious injuries need treatment. Medical reports will help you with your claim and with obtaining benefits such as temporary disability.

3. FILL OUT THE CLAIM FORM.

Your employer should provide you with a claim form.  Again this form is very important to establishing your claim.  Fill out the form and turn it into your employer.  Then follow up with your employer to make sure that they complete their part of the form.  This form will be turned into the insurance carrier to get you benefits.

4. COME INTO OUR OFFICE AND ASK FOR HELP.  

The Bridges Law Firm has the resources to evaluate your injury and determine the benefits you are entitled to immediately and in the future. You will be able to focus better on recovering from your injuries when you trust your attorney’s ability to take care of your needs and to protect your rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

Information About Your Rights

1. What Should I do if I am injured on the job in California?

You should immediately report your injury to your boss or supervisor. He or she should fill out an accident report which serves as a record notice of your injury, and give you a copy of the report. In addition you will need to fill a workers’ compensation claim form called a DWC-1. Then ask to go to a doctor immediately. Your employer will direct you to the proper doctor for your injury. Finally, come into our office and let us help you with the next steps.

2. When I have been injured at work how do maintain my income to support my family?

If your doctor does not return you to work right away you may be entitled to receive temporary disability payments or loss wages. During the period when your claim is being investigated you may not receive temporary disability but may be able to obtain State Disability payments for your injury. You can receive help with this process in our office.

3. How long do I have to wait before I get workers' compensation benefits in California?

You should be able to get medical treatment immediately after an accident. Lost wages should normally be reimbursed two weeks after the workers' compensation forms are accepted. Claims that need to be investigated may take up to 90 days before you receive payment. In either case you will likely need our assistance to properly receive needed benefits.

4. Do I need an attorney for my California workers' compensation case?

We recommend that you get an attorney. Often we see mistakes made that could have been avoided had an attorney been consulted with from the beginning. These mistakes may result in loss of benefits or severely reduced benefits in the long run. In general we feel that we will be able to obtain exponentially better results for you with our assistance than if you were to go through the process alone.

5. What is disability?

Disability can be temporary or permanent. Temporary disability occurs when a doctor gives you temporary work restrictions or takes you off work temporarily while you undergo treatment to recover from your injuries. Temporary disability payments are 2/3 of your average wages. Permanent disability is when the doctor rules that your restrictions are permanent and gives you an impairment number for your injury. Permanent disability is assigned a certain value for which you will receive monetary payments. You cannot receive both payments at the same time.

6. How do I obtain treatment for my injuries?

You must request that your employer send you to a worker's compensation doctor or clinic right after you report your claim. Your employer or their insurance carrier is obligated to provide you with treatment while the claim is being investigated. If the claim is accepted, you must designate a doctor to continue treating you for your injuries. This is where you should come into our office to help ensure that you receive continued care. If a claim is denied you will not be entitled to treatment. After a claim is accepted specific treatment may still be denied by the insurance carrier. We can help you with this complicated process.

7. Does workers’ compensation provide medical treatment for my injuries for the rest of my life?

Yes, if the claim is accepted workers compensation will provide medical treatment for your injuries for the rest of your life. This is still subject to certain rules and limits however.

8. If I am initially treated by an insurance doctor, do I have a right to see my own doctor?

After 30 days you can choose a doctor from your employers' MPN (Multiple Provider Network). One out of ten companies in California do not have MPN, and if your company is not a member you are free to select a physician outside the network.

9. What is IMR and what does it have to do with my medical treatment?

As of 7/1/13 all medical treatment for accepted claims that is denied by the employer or insurance carrier can be appealed through the IMR process. This process cannot be invoked if the employer or insurance carrier does not properly respond to a treatment request with a Utilization Review determination first.

10. Will I get compensation for pain and suffering in a California workers' compensation claim?

No, Workers' Compensation in California does not have a provision for pain and suffering. Personal injury Cases are where you can make claims for pain and suffering.

11. Why do I have to attend a deposition?

The employer or insurance may require you to participate in a proceeding called a deposition. This is a process where the insurance carrier's attorney will ask you questions about your background and your injury in front of a court reporter. You are required to attend the deposition. We will protect your rights and interest in this process.

12. Why do I have to attend a QME or an AME?

Whether or not the claim is accepted or denied the insurance carrier can object to a specific medical opinion and request a medical legal evaluation called a QME or an AME. If we represent you we may also request such an evaluation to protect your interests and your rights to benefits. Thus, attending this evaluation is very important to your case.

13. Do I have to attend a hearing called an MSC, trial or Status Conference?

You are generally required to attend an MSC, which a hearing that can be requested by our office or the insurance carrier's attorney. You will also be required to attend a trial if your case needs to go to trial. Most often these hearings affect your benefits. You may or may not need to attend a Status Conference. We will usually contact you when you are needed at a Status Conference. Otherwise you can assume that your appearance is not necessary. You are never required to attend a Lien Conference.

14. What if I quit my job while receiving workers' compensation benefits in California?

You will continue to receive benefits. You do need to discuss your quitting with our office as you may affect your benefits by leaving your job through you own resignation.

15. What if I am fired while receiving workers' compensation in California?

If fired, you will continue to receive workers' compensation benefits. We need to be notified of the termination to determine whether a wrongful retaliation claim, a 132A claim or a civil employment claim is in order. Please contact us immediately about any terminations from your job.

16. If my injury results in permanent symptoms, am I entitled to a workers' compensation settlement in California?

If you have a permanent injury you are entitled a settlement and permanent disability benefits, based on the percentage of your disability as determined by a doctor. Occasionally, you can receive a settlement without the injury being permanent.

17. Can my employer make me pay for my health insurance while I am receiving workers' compensation?

Yes, your employer can make you pay your health insurance while you receive worker's compensation benefits.

18. Can I receive unemployment compensation and workers' compensation at the same time?

Yes, you can receive the benefits at the same time, unless the treating physician says you cannot work at all. In order to be able to receive unemployment benefits you have to be able to work. The sum of the two benefits cannot exceed your wages when you were working and uninjured.

19. If I were using alcohol or drugs when the accident occurred, can benefits be denied?

Possibly. Contact us immediately about these issues.

20. What is an occupational disease or a repetitive stress injury?

An occupational disease is a disease that can be by caused by something hazardous that you are exposed to at work. Exposure to asbestos is an example of an occupational disease. Generally, a repetitive stress injury results from repetitive work that you do at work over a period of time. A doctor must determine whether you have an occupational disease or repetitive stress injury. 

21. When is a workers' compensation claim considered settled and closed in California?

The case is settled and closed by a workers compensation judge who issues a Findings and Award, an approval of a Stipulations with Request for Award or a Compromise and Release.  These awards resolve permanent disability or all of your workers' compensation benefits (in the case of a Compromise and Release). An award of just permanent disability can be reopened if you worsen.  A final Compromise and Release cannot be reopened unless fraud is involved.