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5 Things You Need to Do After a Work Injury

Confused injured worker with doctor

Even though a work injury is something that no one wants to experience, it happens more often than one might expect. And when it does happen, the adrenaline, the fear, and the sense of rush may prevent you from taking the right steps to take care of yourself and, equally important, have everything you need to file a Workers’ Compensation claim correctly.

Although in California, employers must communicate to their employees the overall process after a workplace injury, it is easy to forget the steps in the heat of the moment. But don’t worry, they’re pretty easy to learn and follow.

Keep reading and discover five things you need to do after you get hurt at work.


1. File a DWC-1 Claim Form

2. Make Sure You Seek Medical Care

3. Document Any Evidence and Witnesses

4. Follow Up with Your Employer

5. Follow Up with Your Adjuster

1. Fill Out a DWC-1 Form

The first thing you need to do is fill out a form called DWC-1. Then, you have to make sure you report the recent injury to your employer.

The DWC-1 is the official claim form in California, and it signifies that you want to pursue a claim regarding your workplace injury. Your job here is to fill half of it, and your employer fills out the other half. Make sure to keep a copy for your records and document everything. Then your employer gives the form to the insurance company, that way the adjuster gets what they need to open the Workers’ Compensation case.

Are you unable to fill out the DWC-1 claim form? No worries. Your employer is responsible for telling the insurance company that you had an injury so they can start the case process. The key here is to notify your employer of the injury, even if it’s done via text.

2. Make Sure You Seek Medical Care

More often than not, people don't want to go to a doctor right away. They want to recover without any fuzz and quickly as possible. Moreover, they assume that they can get better on their own, so they decide to skip the visit to the physician.

Some injured workers want to get back to work without making a big deal out of the injury. It’s quite common to see some of these workers take a week off, maybe two weeks, maybe they don’t even go at all.

The problem is that this decision can only harm your case. Always go to the doctor immediately and be totally honest about the incident. Also, make sure everything gets documented:

  • How did the injury happen?
  • When did it happen?
  • What were your initial symptoms?
  • Everything else that is relevant to your case

3. Document Any Evidence and Witnesses

It’s not the ideal scenario, but we often run into cases where the employer is not honest about how the injury happened. It also happens that some workers may be pushed into lying about the source of the accident or the fact that it was a workplace injury. That way, the insurance can deny liability for the case.

That is why you must ensure you have all the evidence and, hopefully, witnesses. There are some things that you can do to gather this evidence:

  • Ask for surveillance camera records.
  • Document the injury in writing rather than verbally.
  • Get the contact information of the witnesses.
  • If you can’t get their contact easily, try at least to remember who they were.

It is important to be able to contact your witnesses. You will probably need them during your case to testify in trial on your behalf, so make an effort to get their info.

4. Follow Up with Your Employer

There are a lot of parties involved in any Workers' Comp case:

  • The injured worker
  • The attorneys
  • The adjuster
  • The employer
  • The doctors

And, as you can expect, not everyone is on the same page most of the time. Everybody has their own concerns, motivations, expectations, and so on. Besides, with so much different information flying around, uncertainty finds its way. That is why having good communication practices is key in the process whatsoever.

When you are off work you must keep in touch with your employer. Let them know what's going on with you, your work status, and your return date —if you think you might be returning earlier— or just check in with them. It will surely help the communication flow and avoid future troubles.

5. Follow Up with Your Adjuster

It is no surprise that adjusters don’t do their job as you would expect them to. It is common to find situations such as:

  • Late benefit payments
  • They don’t authorize medical care on time.
  • They don't provide authorization for treating physicians.
  • They might even lag the case investigation and not issue proper notices on time.

Not all adjusters behave like this, though. Either way, you must be in contact with your adjuster frequently. It will help you confirm you will get your benefits paid on time and that they will be administered just the way they should.


Having an on-the-job injury is always a scary situation to deal with, but now you know the steps you need to take to have a successful Workers’ Compensation case and get the peace of mind and recovery you need. Remember to fill out the DWC-1 form, seek medical care immediately, gather evidence and witnesses, and keep in touch with your employer and adjuster.

But to ensure the best possible outcome in your process, it is a good idea to look for an attorney. They can help you navigate the Workers’ Comp system and liberate you of some of the burdens you will be carrying on this journey.

Do you need help with your claim? Talk to us for free at 800-606-6999 or make an appointment here.

Pacific Workers', The Lawyers for Injured Workers in Northern California's Premier Workers' Compensation Law Firm. Representing First Responders, Health Care Workers, Construction Workers, Delivery Workers, Warehouse Workers, and all the hard-working people that keep our community moving in their Fight for Justice against Insurance Companies.

With over 250+ Five Star Reviews; an incredible staff of caring, well-trained, advanced technology for superior client communication: a track record of an over 98%-win rate and giving back to our community through the Pacific Workers' Foundation, it is easy to see why Pacific Workers' is the go-to law firm for all injured workers in Northern California. Offices in Oakland, Concord, Stockton, Tracy, San Jose, and Sacramento.

If you or a loved one need help or just have a question, give us a call at 800-606-6999.

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