California Workers Compensation Laws

If you have been injured due to a work-related incident,  there are several key features of California’s workers’ compensation laws you need to know to make informed decisions. Workers’ comp benefits may provide you with medical treatment to recover from a work related injury or illness, partially replace the wages lost while you are recovering, and help you return to work.


Employees typically have 30 days within the date of an injury to notify their employer and file a workers’ comp claim form. Union representatives should also be informed immediately.

Within one day of filing a claim form, an employer must authorize appropriate medical treatment. While an employer is deciding whether to accept or reject a claim, employees may receive up to $10,000 in medical treatment.

Employers must fill out the “Employer” section of the claim form before submitting it to the insurance company. Employees can request a copy of the completed claim form for their records.

If an injury occurred over an extended period of time, employees must inform an employer within 30 days of the date they:

  1. Suffered a temporary disability – meaning the date they sought medical treatment or lost time from work, and
  2. Realized it was due to work

If an injury in not reported within 30 days, employees might not be able to receive benefits unless they can show the employer knew or should have known about the injury within the 30-day time period. Get a free consultation from an experienced attorney by calling 1-800-THE-LAW2 as soon as possible to learn how California workers’ compensation laws apply to your case.

Choosing A Medical Professional

In California, employees have the right to “pre-designate” their doctor in case of an injury, only if an employer provides group health coverage. The doctor must be an individual’s regular primary care physician.

Employees who did not pre-designate a doctor will likely need to see one chosen by the employer or who is in the employer’s medical provider network. If the employer did not follow certain rules such as not informing workers that they could pre-designate a doctor, didn’t provide a workers’ comp claim form after learning of an injury, or did not post required notices of workers’ comp rights, California law allows employees the right to choose their own doctor.

Workers’ Comp Insurance

If an employer didn’t pay for workers’ comp insurance coverage and did not set aside funds for workers’ comp claims, employees have the right to sue them in civil court for medical expenses and lost wages, (as well as pain and suffering, which are not allowed in standard workers’ comp cases). Or, employees may also file a workers’ comp claim against the employer and collect from California’s Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund. In either case, hiring a workers’ comp lawyer is recommended.

Dealing with a Denied Claim

If the employer’s insurance company rejects your claim, you have the right to request a hearing before the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. Work with an attorney from 1-800-THE-LAW2 to make sure you present the best claim possible.