WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE INJURED AT WORK

  1. Report the injury immediately or as soon as possible to a supervisor or some other person in charge.  Reporting the injury to a co-worker is not sufficient under California case law.
     

  2. Request a claim form (DWC-1) as soon as possible.  Keep a copy for yourself. 
     

  3. If the employer refuses to provide a claim form, send the employer a letter by certified mail return receipt or hand deliver the letter to the employer and write down a note of the date, time, and the name of the person to whom you delivered the letter.  The letter should indicate the date of your injury, and the parts of the body injured.
     

  4. Get the names and telephone numbers of any witnesses if possible.  Many times, witnesses will be co-workers and may not be willing to cooperate for fear of losing their job.
     

  5. Get medical treatment as soon as possible after the injury occurs.  If your employer refuses to provide treatment, go to an emergency room such as Olive View, High Desert Medical Center, County USC, Riverside Community, or Arrowhead Regional as soon as possible.  You can go to any medical provider such as a walk in clinic.  Be sure to tell the doctor that your injury occurred at work.  It is important that you give a correct and complete injury of the injury.  Also, it is important to tell the first doctor(s) you treat with all of your symptoms.  It is difficult to add other body parts to a claim if there are no complaints of pain close in time to the injury in many cases.
     

  6. POST TERMINATION WARNING – Under California law, no compensation or medical treatment is allowed for a workers’ compensation claim that is reported after the termination of employment or notice of termination of employment subject to certain limited exceptions.  REPORT YOUR INJURY BEFORE YOU ARE TERMINATED BY YOUR EMPLOYER OR YOU WILL LIKELY LOOSE YOUR RIGHTS UNDER THE WORKERS COMPENSATION LAWS.
     

  7. If your injury is likely to result in either permanent impairment or an inability to do the job you had when you were injured, you should contact an attorney.  In many cases, you will not know if your have permanent impairment until a month or two after your injury.  A good rule is to give treatment a chance to work for 30 days.  If you are not better and have not returned to work, there is a reasonable chance that you will have permanent impairment and possible diminished future earnings capacity.

PSYCHIATRIC INJURY – STRESS CLAIMS – MENTAL/MENTAL

Under California Law, for a psychiatric injury to be compensable, the following requirements must be satisfied:

a.       The employment must be six months or more.

b.       The employee must have a psychiatric condition that is listed in DSM IV

c.       The employee must prove that the actual events of employment are the predominant cause of the psychiatric condition (51% or more)

d.       A psychiatric condition that is substantially caused (35%--45%) by good faith, non discriminatory personnel action(s) is not compensable as a work-related injury.  Examples of good faith personnel actions are criticism of the employee’s work or attendance, change in work assignments, and decision about raises or promotion.  The employer has the burden of proof on this issue.

e.       A psychiatric injury that is caused by the litigation process is not compensable.  Examples of psychiatric injury caused by the litigation process are an employees reaction to the denial of their claim, dealing with an abusive claims adjuster, or having their benefits terminated.

f.        A stress claim or mental--mental psychiatric injury claim filed after termination or notice of termination is not compensable unless the employer know of the injury or medical records of treatment for the psychiatric dated prior to the termination exist.

“Stress” is not a psychiatric condition listed in DSM IV.  If you have not received psychiatric or psychological counseling as a result of the psychological injury your are alleging, your psychiatric claim likely has little merit.

If you worked at the employer for less than two years, you will also have a more difficult time proving your claim unless it is due to a sudden violent event.

When an employee files a psychiatric claim, they are opening up all aspects of their life for scrutiny by the insurance company.  The insurance company will ask about your mental health treatment history, marriage, children, parents, criminal history, litigation history, bankruptcies among many other inquiries.  If you don’t want or feel uncomfortable disclosing this information, you should seriously reconsider filing a psychological or stress claim.

If your stress comes from conflict with a supervisor or manager and the conflict concerns your attendance, job performance, job evaluation, job assignment, or other actions that you consider unfair, you claim will most likely be defeated under the good faith personnel action defense.  You are better off finding a job at another employer than filing this type of stress claim.

PSYCHIATRIC INJURY FROM PHYSICAL INJURY – MENTAL/PHYSICAL

If you have a physical injury that is severe enough to cause frequent pain that may result in sleep disturbance or difficulty in performing activities of daily living, you may have a valid psychiatric injury claim.