Generally, you have to file a workers’ compensation claim before you were fired, laid off or voluntarily quit. However, you can still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you can show at least one of the following:
- Employer Knew of Your Injury Before Termination or Layoff
- Injury Occurred between Your Notice of Termination and the Last Day of Work
- You Received Medical Attention for the Injury before Termination or Layoff
- You Became Aware of Cumulative Trauma Injury after Termination or Layoff
- Employer Knew of Your Injury Before Termination or Layoff: If you told your supervisor that you were injured or planning to file a workers’ compensation claim before you were laid off or quit. Also, if there were witnesses to your injury prior to termination or layoff, or video evidence.
- Injury Occurred between Your Notice of Termination and the Last Day of Work: If you were told, for example, you would be laid off at the end of the month, but you get injured before then and provide notice to your employer.
- You Received Medical Attention for the Injury before Termination or Layoff: Medical treatment proves you were injured before your last day of work. It does not matter if you go to a personal doctor or a company doctor.
- You Became Aware of Cumulative Trauma Injury after Termination or Layoff: Many times, employees do not know they have an injury until after they are terminated. When you are laid off and go to a doctor for the first time for pain to your body, and the doctor tells you your injuries were the result of work, then you can still file a claim after termination for cumulative trauma injuries. You have one year from the day a doctor tells you your injuries are work related. However, the longer you wait to see a doctor after termination, the weaker the argument you have that your injury was work related.
Under California’s Workers’ Compensation System, employers are obligated to inform you of your rights as an injured worker when you are hired and as you continue to work. The employer must post in a conspicuous location frequented by employees, the employer’s workers’ compensation company. Failure to post this information is a misdemeanor. The post must be in English and Spanish. It shall contain information on how to get emergency medical treatment, the kinds of injuries covered by workers’ compensation, the employee’s right to receive medical care, the right to select a treating physician, right to temporary disability benefits, to whom to report injuries, the right not to get fired for reporting an injury or filing a claim.
If your employer fails to advise you of your rights as an injured worker, the time period you have to file a workers’ compensation claim is increased until you learned of your rights. After all, how can you properly report or file a claim if you did not know your rights. You are not legally precluded from filing a claim after the one year statute of limitations until you learned of your rights as an injured worker.