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Four out of 10 California workers’ comp claims come from new employees

A new report published by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB) found that about 40% of workers’ compensation claims made in the state come from workers with less than one year of tenure.

The report, which looked into the impacts of an employee’s tenure on the frequency of workers’ comp claims, also noted that service-providing industries (which includes retail, finance, education, leisure and hospitality) have a higher share of claims from these short-tenured workers than other industries. WCIRB also found that from 2020 to 2022, all industry groups saw an increase in the share of claims from short-tenured workers. The agency believes a strong labor market with increased job openings drove this general increase in claims.

Other important findings in the report include:

  • Workers with less than a year of tenure are more likely to have fall, struck or cut injuries. Longer-tenured workers tend to have more strain injuries.
  • Workers with longer tenure tend to have a higher share of cumulative trauma claims.

The report concluded that employees with shorter tenure are more likely to suffer work-related injuries potentially because newer employees are less skilled and aware of safety practices than more experienced workers.

How soon can workers file claims for work-related injuries?

While the report may look like a knock against newer employees, there’s nothing in California labor law that prohibits new workers from filing workers’ comp claims as early as their first day of work.

An employer can’t reject a claim for work-related injuries because it was the employee’s first day of work. However, an employer can still reject a claim for other reasons, such as incomplete requirements, or if they reasonably believe that the injury was mostly due to the employee’s pre-existing medical conditions.

If you’re a newly-tenured worker and your workers’ comp claim was denied by your insurer, you can still appeal the denial through the state Division of Workers’ Compensation. The appeal process will involve a trial court with a judge to decide over the claim dispute. A legal professional may be helpful in order to better present your case in court and fight for your right to fair compensation.