The Ultimate Guide to Documenting a Workplace Injury

by Staff | July 8th, 2024

Workplace injuries are all too common, with over 400,000 nonfatal incidents reported in California in 2022. When an on-the-job accident occurs, the physical, emotional, and financial toll can be devastating.

Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits or a personal injury settlement covering medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

No matter which compensation you qualify for, documenting your injuries and recovery can help you get financial support while you’re out of work. A California personal injury lawyer can review your case, determine where to file, and help you pursue maximum compensation after a workplace injury.

Report Your Injury Immediately

Reporting the injury is the first step to protecting your rights after a workplace accident. Workers’ compensation requires employees to notify their employer of work-related injury or illness within 30 days.

Your employer should provide you with a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC 1), which you must fill out and return.

Even if you’re ineligible for workers’ comp—such as if you were injured at a third-party site—it’s still essential to report the accident to your supervisor or site manager. Make sure to keep a copy of any report for your records. This documentation is crucial for any potential claims or legal actions you may pursue later.

In addition, if your injuries result from unsafe working conditions, neglected safety measures, or faulty equipment, your report could be crucial evidence in a premises liability or defective product claim.

Document Every Detail of the Incident

Document every detail of your workplace accident to preserve evidence for potential workers’ compensation or legal claims. Write down a detailed account of what happened, including the following information:

  • The exact date, time, and location of your injury
  • A description of the specific tasks you were performing when the injury occurred
  • Any hazardous conditions, faulty equipment, or safety violations that may have contributed to the accident
  • The names and contact information of any witnesses

Take photographs or videos of the accident scene, your injuries, and any contributing factors such as spills, broken equipment, or other hazards. Visual evidence can substantiate your claim and demonstrate the severity of your injuries.

Maintain Thorough Medical and Financial Records

Keep detailed records of all medical evaluations, treatments, and associated costs. This helps document the extent of your injuries and the financial impact of the workplace accident. Save copies of the following:

  • Medical reports from initial and follow-up appointments
  • Diagnostic test results (X-rays, MRIs, CT scans)
  • Prescriptions and medication lists
  • Receipts for out-of-pocket medical expenses (co-pays, medical equipment, transportation costs)
  • Documentation of any lost wages, such as pay stubs or W2s

Keep Track of All Communications With Your Employer

Maintain a copy of all communications with your employer or the site manager regarding your injury. This should include the following:

  • The date, time, and method of reporting your injury (e.g., verbal notification to supervisor, written report)
  • Any conversations or correspondence regarding medical treatment, accommodations, or return-to-work plans
  • Requests for workers’ compensation claim forms or other documentation
  • Any denials or disputes from your employer regarding the injury or claim process

California Labor Code Section 132a prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for filing a workers’ compensation claim or exercising their rights under the law. If your employer is uncooperative or disputes aspects of your claim, having a record of your communications can demonstrate your compliance with proper procedures and protect your legal rights.

Get Legal Help After a Workplace Injury

Dealing with a workplace injury is difficult enough without having to navigate the complex legal system. An experienced California personal injury lawyer can be a powerful advocate in your corner. They can review your documentation and advise you on the best options for securing maximum compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

Get the professional legal representation you deserve—contact Berg Injury Lawyers today to discuss your workplace injury case.