I hurt my back at work. My doctor gave me restrictions and I am working “modified duty.” Yesterday my supervisor told me the injury was not reported and I probably had already hurt my back off the job. Can my employer deny my workers’ compensation claim? What other rights do I have?
First, always report a work injury to your supervisor immediately, and tell the office you want a Workers’ Compensation claim form (called a “DWC-1” form). If you try to be a hero and “tough it out,” you are setting up a formula for disaster. Nobody wants to get injured on the job, but if you do, protect yourself and your family by reporting the injury and filling out a “DWC-1” form. The Arns Law Firm deals with a lot of clients who do not report their injuries because they want to please their employer. Do not do that!
You have a right to medical treatment within the Workers’ Compensation carrier’s network. For the first 30 days following your injury, the carrier can send you to the doctor of their choosing unless you pre-designate.
Regarding a potential prior injury on or off the job, if you sustain a new injury at work, you are entitled to bring a new Workers’ Compensation claim. If your claim is ultimately accepted by the carrier, at the end of the case some of your permanent disability may be “apportioned” to the prior injury. You should consult with a lawyer since this can become complicated, and sometimes a doctor’s opinion is needed to determine whether the injury is, in fact, a new one. Also remember that your supervisor cannot unilaterally make that determination once you dispute their denial – there is an entire medical-legal system in place to determine apportionment.
A final and extremely important reason to consult a lawyer regarding this injury is that you may also have a third party case in addition to your Workers’ Compensation case. Third party cases result in substantially more money for the injured worker, so don’t delay.
-Hillary Allyn, The Arns Law Firm, San Francisco, CA
For more information on work-site accidents and
your legal options, visit the ARNS Website.
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This Month's Expert; Hillary Allyn
Hillary Allyn has a strong background in Workers' Compensation. She litigates cases involving construction injury, workers' compensation, personal injury, employment discrimination, and serious and willful employer misconduct.
Hillary was an extern to the Honorable Judge Teri Jackson at the San Francisco Superior Court. Her experience and her fluency in Spanish allow her to successfully represent our Spanish-speaking client base.