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How to properly document and report workplace injuries

You might have heard that proper documentation and reporting is key to a workers’ compensation claim. After all, your employer or insurer will reject your claim, even if it’s severe, if you don’t have the right documents in place.

But how exactly does one properly document and report a workplace injury?

Immediate actions following a workplace injury

As soon as an injury happens, your first order of business is to treat your injuries right away. Seek medical attention, especially for urgent injuries. Your employer may tell you where to receive treatment, usually from a healthcare provider that’s part of your employer’s health plan.

You should also immediately notify your supervisor or employer that you’ve injured yourself in a workplace accident. This notification can be verbal or written. What’s important is that, by California law, you should report your injury to your employer within 30 days to receive compensation.

Documenting the injury

Thorough documentation of all the related details is important for any workers’ compensation claim. Your employer or insurer will need to assess the circumstances of the incident to determine your eligibility for claims. Consider the following steps in documenting:

  • Write down the date, time, and location of the incident.
  • Describe the injury and how it happened.
  • List any witnesses and their contact information.
  • Keep copies of all correspondence related to the injury.

On top of these details, you should also keep medical records related to your claim.

Medical records are critical

Another cornerstone of any workers’ compensation claim is medical documentation. Consider the following steps:

  • Visit a healthcare provider to assess and document your injury.
  • Request copies of all medical reports and treatment plans.
  • Follow the doctor’s instructions and attend all appointments.

Remember that your employer and insurer will determine which types of benefits you may be entitled to based on the severity of your injuries and disability.

The claim form

When you report your injury to your employer, they should provide you with a claim form and a notice of potential eligibility for benefits (either in person or through mail) within one day of your reporting. Even if your employer doesn’t send you a claim form, you may download one from the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR).

To trigger the claims process, you must complete the “employee” section of the form and send it back to your employer. But your responsibilities don’t end there: you should stay on top of your claim by following up with your employer and their insurer on the status of your case.

Documentation is an important element of any workers’ comp claim. However, even with complete documentation, there’s no guarantee that your employer or insurer would approve a claim. If your claim was rejected, consider consulting with a legal professional who may be able to help you appeal the denial with the DIR.