If you sustain an on-the-job injury in California, then the number one priority must be seeking medical treatment. However, there are also various deadlines that you need to be aware of when it comes to reporting the injury to your employer and for recovering benefits.
Reporting the Injury to a Supervisor or Employer
Aside from seeking immediate medical care after sustaining an on-the-job injury, perhaps the most important aspect of the compensation recovery process is reporting the incident to your employer.
We always suggest that workplace injury victims report the injury or illness to their employer as soon as possible, preferably the same day the injury occurs or the diagnosis is made. However, the rule through the workers’ compensation system is that the injury must be reported to the employer within 30 days.
This may seem like a long amount of time, but it is not. Anytime you suspect you have been injured on the job, you need to let your supervisor know. If you have received a diagnosis for an injury or illness that may have been caused by job-related duties, you need to let your employer know within 30 days. Even if the injury or illness ends up not being related to the workplace, choose to be on the safe side and report it to the employer.
The California Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations
After you report the incident to your employer, this is not necessarily mean that you have filed a workers’ compensation claim. Not everyone files a claim for benefits right away, particularly if they think the injury or illness is not severe.
California law has an overall workers’ compensation statute of limitations of one year from the date the injury or illness occurs or from when the diagnosis is made. Please note that this is one year from the day of the incident or diagnosis, not one year from the date the injury was reported. If you wait until the 30th day to report the injury or illness to the employer, then you really only have 11 months to file the workers’ compensation claim.
The vast majority of work injury claims in California are resolved through workers’ compensation claims and benefits paid out to employees. However, there are times when an employee may be able to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit against an alleged negligent party.
In these situations, the timelines are different. The California personal injury statute of limitations of two years would apply. This means that the injury victim has a two-year window with which to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party. Third-party personal injury claims are not as common as successful workers’ compensation claims, and they typically only occur if a party aside from the employer or a coworker causes the injury, such as a contractor, subcontractor, or other outside entity that may have caused the injury or illness.