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How Long Do You Have to Report an Injury at Work?

Posted by Emily Ruby | Nov 25, 2023 | 0 Comments

In California, like in many other states, workplace accident safety and the reporting of workplace injuries are essential aspects of ensuring that employees receive timely medical treatment and care in the aftermath of an on-the-job accident. California laws have established specific reporting requirements in order to protect workers' rights and make sure they receive the necessary medical care and benefits. There are a number of factors that play a part in making sure workers receive these benefits including legal timelines, actions that must be taken by both employers and employees, and the potential consequences of failing to promptly report a workplace injury.

The workers' compensation claims process can be challenging and frustrating for many because a lot depends on whether or not your employer is willing to do the right thing. When you intend to seek workers' comp benefits after a workplace accident, the law requires that you inform your employer about your accident and injuries so they can in turn inform their workers' comp insurance provider.

California Workplace Injury Reporting Timelines

Under California law, workers have 30 days to report an on-the-job injury to their employers. However, waiting the full 30 days is not advised because when you report your injury sooner, you get medical attention as well as the benefits much sooner. Once you report the injury to your employer, they have one workday to give you a workers' comp claim form. You should fill this out and return it as soon as possible to your employer. They must then forward a copy of your completed claims form to a claim administrator from the insurance company that will handle the claim. It is important to note that you must formally report your injury, in writing, to your employer to protect your rights.

These timelines to report a personal injury claim at work, however, may vary depending on the nature of the injury. Here is what you need to know about when to report your workplace injury:

Immediate Reporting: For severe injuries or life-threatening situations, employers must be notified immediately. This typically includes incidents such as amputations, eye injuries, or injuries requiring hospitalization. Immediate reporting ensures that you receive much-needed emergency medical care right away.

Within 8 Hours: In cases where an employee's death occurs due to a workplace incident, the employer must report the fatality to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) within 8 hours. Employers should also report serious injuries requiring hospitalization, amputations, or loss of an eye within the same timeframe.

Within 24 Hours: Less severe injuries, such as those that do not require immediate hospitalization but still result in lost workdays or restricted work activity, must be reported to Cal/OSHA within 24 hours.

Employer's Responsibility: It is primarily the responsibility of the employer to report workplace injuries to Cal/OSHA. However, if an employer fails to do so, an employee or their representative may report the injury directly to Cal/OSHA. In such cases, the reporting should occur as soon as possible.

Occupational Diseases: The reporting timelines for occupational diseases may vary depending on the specific disease and its relationship to workplace exposures. Employees are encouraged to report occupational diseases as soon as they become aware of them.

Why Should You Report Workplace Injuries in a Timely Manner?

 Reporting injuries serves a number of important purposes, including:

  • Receiving timely medical attention, which puts you on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
  • Giving workers access to workers' comp benefits that cover medical expenses, a portion of their lost wages as well as rehabilitation costs, helping injured workers get back on their feet.
  • Ensuring compliance with the law, which requires employers to adhere to these regulations to avoid legal penalties. Employees must also report in a timely manner to make sure their rights are protected.
  • Reporting injuries helps employers identify hazards and unsafe conditions in the workplace. This information enables them to take corrective measures to prevent future incidents.
  • Properly documenting workplace injuries can protect both employees and employers in case of disputes or legal claims arising from the incident.

What Are the Consequences of Delayed Reporting?

Failing to report a workplace injury in a timely manner can lead to various negative consequences, particularly for the worker. Delayed reporting may result in delayed medical treatment, potentially leading to worsening medical conditions for the injured worker. Workers' compensation benefits are contingent on timely reporting. Failing to report within the required timeframe can lead to the denial of benefits, including medical expenses and wage replacement.

Delayed reporting can complicate legal matters, such as disputes and litigation related to the injury. It can also make it challenging to establish the cause of the injury and determine liability. In addition, over time, evidence related to the incident may deteriorate or become less reliable, making it harder to determine the cause of the injury and liability.

How to Report a Workplace Injury in California

If you have been injured on the job, it is important that you follow the steps below after being injured at work to make sure your rights to compensation are protected:

Medical attention: Seek medical attention and care right away.If the injury is severe or life-threatening, prioritize seeking medical attention for the injured party.

Employer notification: Injured employees should promptly inform their employer or supervisor about the injury. Employers can then take appropriate actions, such as arranging for medical care and initiating the reporting process.

Incident Report: Employers often require injured employees to complete an incident report detailing the circumstances of the injury. This report should be filled out as soon as possible after the incident.

Cal/OSHA Notification: Employers are responsible for notifying Cal/OSHA of reportable incidents within the required timeframes. Employees can verify that this notification has been made.

Contacting an Experienced Work Injury Lawyer

It would also be in your best interest to seek the counsel of an experienced Los Angeles work injury lawyer who has experience handling workers' comp claims and third-party lawsuits. Reporting workplace injuries in California is a vital process that can be critical in protecting workers' rights. Understanding the specific reporting timelines and following the correct procedures is essential to ensure that injured workers receive the care and benefits they need while also fulfilling legal obligations.

At Greenberg and Ruby, our dedicated injury lawyers are committed to fighting for the rights of injured workers and helping them secure maximum compensation for their losses. If you have been injured on the job, call us today for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.

About the Author

Emily Ruby

2022 "Women in Law" Award Winner, Emily Ruby, specializes in complex cases, many of which involve catastrophic injuries and deaths. Mrs. Ruby has personally obtained more than $100 Million in compensation for her clients with an impressive 97.4% success rate and is a graduate of the prestigious CAALA Trial Academy. She was selected as one of Forbes' Best Wrongful Death Lawyers and is a writer for Advocate Magazine.


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