Every employer in California is required to carry workers' compensation insurance, even if they only have one employee. Most employees working in the state are covered by the State Compensation Insurance Fund that protects them in the event of a work site injury or illness. The 'State Fund' as it is known, was enacted to protect workers for lost wages, medical care, disability and death that are due to a workplace injury.
In the event of a work-related injury that is the result of an accident such as a back injury from a fall, the employee should notify a supervisor as soon as possible. Every employee hurt at work has 30 days to make a claim. However, beyond that time, you could lose the right to receive benefits or lose the right to make a claim. If the injury is the result of prolonged exposure to a hazardous work environment such as going deaf due to constant, loud noise, employees should report to a supervisor when he or she first notices this injury.
Seek medical care for your injury as soon as possible and make your physician aware of the fact that it is a work-related injury. For most injuries at work, medical treatment is a certainty. However, minor instances, like a sprain or strain may not seem serious enough to require medical treatment at first. Even injuries that might seem minor at first could result in a significant loss due to missed wages, eventual medical treatment and rehabilitation. Any injury that is significant enough for you to possibly miss work should be reported and treated.
Under the state compensation, there are four principle benefits that you are able to claim compensation for. Firstly, medical care expenses are covered and reimburse you for any tests, treatment, medicine or equipment. Also, both temporary disability and permanent disability benefits are available to cover lost wages if you can't work or are unable to return to work. Lastly, death benefits provide protection against loss in the event you should die as a result of a work-related injury or illness.
Workers' compensation exists to protect you and your family. However, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to know your rights. If your claim has been turned down or you feel that your claim has not been properly addressed, a lawyer can help guide you through the appeals process and ensure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled as a victim of on-the-job injuries.