Legal How-To: Filing a Workers' Comp Claim

By Betty Wang, JD on July 31, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Do you know how to file for workers' compensation? If you're injured on the job, workers' comp can potentially help take care of your medical expenses and wages while you're recovering.

These benefits aren't automatic, however. There is a process for filing a workers' compensation claim; if you fail to follow the steps in a timely manner, you may have to pay for your injury on your own.

That's why it's important to get familiar with the workers' compensation process. Here are the steps you'll generally need to take in order to file a workers' comp claim:

  1. Seek medical attention. First things first -- if you've been injured, see a doctor or seek medical attention immediately. You don't want the harm to be exacerbated by delaying treatment, and you'll also want some medical paperwork to potentially submit with your claim.
  2. Notify your employer as soon as possible. Next, you should notify your employer of your injury and your intent to file for workers' compensation. It's best to do this in writing in order to keep a paper trail (though some states like New Jersey don't require written notice -- telling a supervisor is enough). Your state may also require you to notify your employer within a certain time frame from the date of your injury.
  3. Fill out a claim from (there may be several). After notifying your employer, you will then need to fill out the required workers' compensation claim forms. Your employer will likely have one for you, but make sure you check with your state's workers' compensation agency -- there may be one for them as well. You'll also want to ask your state agency about your state's time limit for filing a claim form, which is different from the time limit for notifying your employer.
  4. Wait for a response. If your injury isn't too serious, chances are shortly you'll receive a check covering some of your costs in the mail. After you've filled out your forms, it's a matter of waiting. Typically, after a claim has been approved, you should receive a response within a month; sometimes, it might be as short as a week.

Need More Help?

While many workers' comp claims are straightforward, the process doesn't always work as smoothly as it should. If your claim is denied, if your employer isn't cooperating, or if your injury involves a complicated set of facts, then it may be best to consult an experienced workers' comp attorney in your area to help you get the compensation you deserve.

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