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Prepare for the pitfalls of filing for workers' comp benefits

On-the-job injuries can cause anxiety, especially if you have a family that relies on your income. Medical treatment and mounting bills along with the inability to go straight back to work may cause concern. Fortunately, the workers' compensation insurance system protects California workers.

Benefits are available to pay all your medical bills, and you may even receive a wage-replacement package to cover lost income. Although this might provide you with peace of mind, it is important to note that it is not an automatic system. You will have to go through a complicated claims process with different time limits and requirements to secure compensation.

The process

Getting familiar with the process is essential so that you will know what to do if you suffer a workplace injury. Otherwise, you may miss deadlines or omit important information, and that could leave you without benefits. The following are the recommended steps to take to ensure maximum benefits:

  • Medical care: Receiving the necessary medical care is vital. However, you may not be able to see your own physician if you failed to arrange this in advance, but do not let this prevent you from getting prompt treatment. Delaying medical care may exacerbate the severity of the injury. Gather the paperwork to submit with your benefits claim, including doctors' and hospital bills along with medical reports.
  • Report your injury: In California, you have a deadline by which to inform your employer of your injury. It may be wise to do this in writing as soon as possible. The applicable time limit is another bit of information to learn and remember before you suffer an on-the-job injury because making this report even a day too late may jeopardize your chances to collect benefits.
  • Claim forms: As soon as your employer learns about your injury, he or she must give you the necessary claim forms. Make sure you omit nothing when you fill out the forms and attach all the medical bills and reports from physicians. The completed forms must go back to your employer, who must file the claim with the insurance provider within a particular time.
  • Wait for approval or rejection: The response to your claim should come within a month. However, payment for medical expenses is typically available immediately. Lost wages and any other benefits will depend on the severity of your injury.

How to handle a rejected claim

Be warned that the workers' compensation insurance provider serves the best interests of the one who pays them -- your employer. For that reason, rejected claims are not uncommon. Securing the services of an experienced workers' compensation attorney from the onset might be the most appropriate step to take. A California lawyer who knows the pitfalls can handle your benefits claim professionally from the start in pursuit of maximum benefits.

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