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What Union Workers Need to Know About Job Injuries

 Posted on June 10,2024 in Workers' Compensation

Gilroy workers' compensation lawyerBeing a union worker comes with many protections and benefits, but workplace injuries can still happen. If you get hurt on the job, you should understand your rights under California’s workers’ compensation system. A California lawyer can share some key information that can benefit you as a union worker.

Report Your Injury Right Away

No matter how minor an injury may seem, always report it to your supervisor or union representative immediately. California law requires notifying your employer within 30 days, but it is best not to wait that long. Prompt reporting helps document what happened and protects your eligibility for workers’ comp benefits. Do not brush off aches, pains, or “small” injuries, as these can worsen over time.

See a Doctor You Trust

After reporting the injury, your employer should offer you a workers’ comp claim form and authorize medical treatment, even if they are unsure the injury is work-related. In an emergency, get care right away. Otherwise, find out if your employer has a Medical Provider Network (MPN) for work injuries. With most MPNs, you can choose your own physician after the first visit. If there is no MPN, you have more flexibility in selecting a treating doctor. Choose someone you are comfortable with who has experience treating your type of injury.

Understand Your Union Contract

Many union contracts have provisions related to work injuries that may provide more significant benefits and protections than standard workers’ comp law. These could include full wage replacement (rather than the standard ⅔), job protection, seniority rights, and the ability to select your own doctor from day one. Carefully review your contract and discuss it with your union rep to understand what special provisions may apply in your case.

Be Cautious About “Medical-Legal” Exams

At some point, you may be asked to attend a medical evaluation set up by the insurance company or your employer. The purpose is to assess your condition and determine things like work restrictions, disability rating, and future medical care. While you must attend, be cautious about what you say, as the doctor’s loyalties are not necessarily to you as the patient. Politely answer questions about your injury and job, but avoid oversharing about your personal life or speculating about your future. You have a right to obtain the doctor’s report, so be sure to request a copy.

Explore All Possible Benefits

Workers’ comp covers more than just medical bills. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may be entitled to temporary disability payments, permanent disability, job retraining, and more. Death benefits are also available to families who lose a loved one to a work-related injury or illness. A workers’ comp attorney in California can assess your case and help you obtain the maximum available benefits.

Consider Legal Representation

The workers’ compensation system can be difficult, especially if you have a serious injury, require extensive treatment, or have a claim denied or disputed by your employer. Consulting with a knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyer can help ensure you receive the full benefits you deserve under the law and your union contract. Many attorneys, including myself, offer free initial consultations to help you understand your rights and options.

Contact a Gilroy, CA Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Being a union worker provides many advantages, but does not make you invincible. If you suffer a job injury, act promptly to report it, get good medical care, and learn your rights under workers’ compensation law and your union contract. A Morgan Hill, CA workers’ compensation lawyer can help you make sure you are taking the proper steps forward. Call Cramer + Martinez at 408-848-1113 for a free consultation.

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