What happens if I’m injured at work and the WC forms are filled out but the employer never submits them or sends me to a doctor?

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What happens if I’m injured at work and the WC forms are filled out but the employer never submits them or sends me to a doctor?

It’s been 9 months and my back pain is getting intolerable.

Asked on May 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

First of all, the employer does not have to send you to a doctor--you are an adult, responsible for your own medical care. If you need a doctor, see one, then worry about the payment later--if your employer is obligated to pay in one way or another, you should be able to recover the money later. In the meantime, if you unreasonably delay in seeking medical care and that makes your condition worse, you might not be able to recover compensation for the exacerbation (or enhancement) of the injury, because that would be due to your own negligence, or carelessness.

Second, if your employer is not honoring its obligations in regards to Workers Compensation, you have the right to file a complaint with the Division of Worker's Compensation. At the end of this answer will be a link to their webpage about filing complaints.

Third, if your employer has not provided WC the way it should have, or has mishandled your claim to such an extent you cannot receive it, you could retain an attorney and sue your employer for medical costs, lost wages or diminished earning potential, and/or pain and suffering. WC doesn't just protect you--it also protects your employer from lawsuits. If you can't get WC, you can then usually sue, if you can show any fault on the part of the employer.

But as the Division of Worker's Compensation itself says (see the second link below) first get the medical treatment you need, then worry about the compensation. As long as you have reported the injury to your employer in a prompt fashion, which you seem to have done, you should have protected yourself legally.

http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/DWC_FilingAComplaint.htm

http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/InjuredWorker.htm


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