What Should You Do After a Work Accident?

A man lifting heavy boxes reaches for his back after an apparent spine injury.
Being injured on the job leaves you in a uniquely tricky position. Not only are you facing medical expenses that may be ongoing, but you can also be experiencing a loss of wages that makes those medical costs that much more challenging. The steps you take next can play an especially important role in your recovery, which makes having an experienced California workers’ comp attorney in your corner that much more important.

A Note about Workers’ Compensation

Employers in California are required to carry workers’ compensation for their employees, which includes all the following benefits for those injured on the job:

  • covered medical treatment for current and ongoing related healthcare needs
  • temporary disability payments for those whose injuries prevent them from performing their usual jobs
  • permanent disability benefits for those whose doctors diagnose them with injuries that preclude them from returning to work in the same capacity
  • supplemental job displacement vouchers, which are designed to pay for the cost of seeking retraining for those who are unable to return to their former jobs
  • death benefits for the family members of those who ultimately succumb to their job-related injuries

Accidents on the job are all too common, and seeking the compensation to which you are entitled can play a critical role in your ability to recover as completely as possible.

The Benefits to Both Parties

To better understand workers’ compensation, it’s important to recognize that it’s intended to balance the rights of both employers and employees. Doing so is accomplished by removing the element of fault from the calculation process, which comes with the following benefits for both parties:

  • Employees are ensured coverage when they suffer an injury on the job – regardless of who is at fault – and the claims process is streamlined in comparison to the fault-based personal injury process.
  • Employers are relieved of the risk associated with facing costly and time-consuming personal injury claims related to accidents on the job, which inevitably happen.

What Both Parties Give Up

In exchange for the benefits afforded by the workers’ compensation process, both parties give something up, including:

  • Employees are not entitled to the full range of compensation they will be in successful personal injury claims. For example, workers’ compensation does not address pain and suffering.
  • Employers are on the hook for covering claims even when the employees themselves may be at fault or may share fault.

Only in rare instances in which the employer’s negligence in the matter was especially egregious can employees file personal injury lawsuits against their employers.

Step One: Seek the Medical Attention You Need

If you’ve had an accident on the job, it’s important not to put off seeking the medical attention that you need. It is not uncommon for very serious injuries to take their time when it comes to presenting with the kind of symptoms that you recognize as requiring immediate medical attention. In the meantime, your condition can worsen and become more difficult to treat. The fact is that early diagnosis is the surest way to support your most complete recovery, which makes pursuing medical attention as soon after your work-related accident as possible paramount.

Additionally, the workers’ compensation insurance company handling your claim is in the business of paying out as little as it can manage in the form of settlements, meaning that it will be looking for reasons to devalue your claim. By seeking the immediate medical attention that you require, you send a strong message to the insurance company that says your claim is exactly as serious as you maintain, which lets the insurance company know that it should take the situation as seriously as you are taking it.

Step Two: Let Your Employer Know About Your Accident

If you have suffered an injury on the job, it is your responsibility to let your employer know. Failure to do so can interfere with your ability to obtain fair compensation. If the injury you suffer is slow to present or correlate with your job, it’s important to let your employer know as soon as you make the connection. By reporting your job-related injury promptly, you help to ensure that you will receive the benefits that you’re entitled to without delay or incident. Failure to report your injury within 30 days of the injury-causing accident can negate your right to workers’ compensation, which highlights the importance of notifying your boss, supervisor, or employer as soon after the injury-causing accident as possible.

Step Three: Follow Your Medical Team’s Instructions

You’ve suffered an injury on the job, and fully recovering is naturally your goal. The best way to fully recover is by taking your medical team’s instructions and advice seriously and following their instructions carefully. Doing so isn’t just the surest means of hastening your recovery but is also the surest means of demonstrating the seriousness of your injuries to the insurance company. Your health and recovery are too important to leave to chance, which makes focusing on your medical team’s advice paramount.

Step Four: Reach Out to a Dedicated Workers’ Compensation Attorney Sooner Rather than Later

While California employees are covered by workers’ compensation, it’s important to recognize that the workers’ compensation insurance company handling your claim is in the business of keeping its profits as high as possible. Doing so entails keeping its settlements, including yours, as low as possible. As a result, the insurance company may engage in a range of practices that are designed to accomplish this goal.

Denying Your Claim from the Start

The involved insurance company may simply deny your claim from the outset and hope that you will give up in frustration as a result. The insurance company recognizes how difficult your situation is and knows that focusing on your recovery may be about all that you can handle at this point. The fact is that people who’ve suffered an injury at work are vulnerable, and having their claims denied without consideration is often enough to shut down their ongoing efforts.

Making You an Early but Inadequate Offer

Another technique that workers’ compensation insurance providers like to employ is making early settlement offers that are inadequate to cover claimants’ losses but that the claimants’ may be desperate enough to accept. You are watching your medical bills pile up while your earnings dwindle, which can leave you feeling like anything is better than nothing. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that without the just compensation to which you’re entitled, your recovery will be that much more challenging – and elusive.

Denying The Extent of Your Injuries

The insurance company may also deny the extent of your injuries – claiming they are less serious than you say they are. Carefully accounting for your medical expenses as you move forward is an important aspect of your claim. So are your doctor’s determinations regarding your ongoing medical needs and your prognosis.

Delaying or Overly Complicating the Claims Process

The workers’ compensation claims process is complicated and lengthy enough without the insurance company purposefully making it more so. Some providers, however, will engage in practices that drag out and complicate the claims process as another means of wearing down claimants and pushing them to accept less compensation than the amounts to which they’re entitled.

All of these reasons and more are exactly why it’s so important to have a seasoned workers’ compensation attorney in your corner – from as early in the process as possible.

How Your Trusted Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help

The fact is that, in the end, the law will determine the amount of compensation to which you are entitled if the insurance company refuses to negotiate a settlement in good faith. Your workers’ compensation attorney will take on a range of important roles in their focused efforts to ensure that you receive fair compensation in a timely manner.

Communicating with the Insurance Company for You

As mentioned, the insurance company would like you to accept a less-than-adequate settlement in their efforts to keep their profits robust, and another tool at their disposal is culling damaging statements out of vulnerable accident victims like you. While it may be difficult to understand how answering a few simple questions put to you by the workers’ compensation insurance company can harm your claim, failure to recognize the risk involved jeopardizes your settlement.

Suffice it to say that the insurance rep on the other end of the phone is very good at obtaining statements from claimants that subsequently damage their own claims. By allowing your focused attorney to communicate with the insurance company on your behalf, you bypass this risk and strengthen your claim in the process.

Building Your Strongest Claim

Your workers’ compensation attorney’s primary focus is budding your strongest claim, which clearly delineates the injuries you’ve suffered. Building your claims tends to come down to gathering evidence in the form of medical bills and statements from your medical team that supports your claim –in terms of the extent of your injuries and the attendant losses – or legal damages – you’ve suffered as a result. Accepting a settlement that falls short of covering your related ongoing medical expenses can thwart your recovery, and your attorney will leave no stone unturned in their keen efforts to skillfully compile the necessary evidence, which may include expert medical testimony.

Skillfully Negotiating with the Insurance Rep

Your workers’ compensation attorney will tirelessly negotiate with the insurance company for a settlement that addresses your complete covered losses and that supports your most complete recovery. Often, doing so requires considerable back and forth.

Being Well-Prepared to Move Forward with the Appropriate Legal Steps

If the insurance company shows no signs of budging from an inadequate settlement offer, your workers’ compensation attorney will be well-prepared to move forward with the next steps, which generally involve turning to the workers’ compensation judge.

Step Five: Know How to Help Protect Your Claim

Your workers’ compensation claim will include circumstances that are unique to your situation, and it will follow its own unique path. However, there are steps that every injured employee with a workers’ compensation claim can follow to help protect their rights throughout the process, including:

  • obtaining the medical attention you need, carefully following your doctor’s instructions, and following up on the next steps in relation to your recovery and health
  • working closely with an accomplished workers’ compensation attorney from the start
  • allowing your attorney to guide your claim and deal with the insurance company on your behalf
  • deferring to your attorney when the insurance company seeks a statement from you, which you should expect
  • staying off social media while your claim is pending – it’s far too easy to post pictures and comments that the insurance company will not only be very interested in but will also be sure to put whatever claim-damaging spin on they can manage


If you have a workers’ compensation claim, you are also likely to have questions, and the answers to those asked most frequently can help.

How can I afford a workers’ comp attorney?

Most reputable workers’ compensation attorneys work on contingency, which means your attorney won’t get paid until your claim is successfully resolved – at which time they will receive a prearranged percentage of your settlement.

Is an attorney really necessary?

Without a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney on your side, obtaining just compensation is far less likely.

Will my case settle?

The vast majority of workers’ compensation claims settle, which means yours is likely to do the same.

Seek the Skilled Guidance of an Experienced California Workers’ Compensation Attorney

The formidable workers’ compensation attorneys at Blair & Ramirez LLP in Los Angeles understand the delicate position being injured on the job puts you in and have the keen focus, drive, and legal insight to help guide your claim toward a favorable resolution that supports your best interests. To make things less stressful for you, we offer a free case evaluator to help you get started. To learn more, please don’t delay contacting or calling us at 213-568-4000 today.