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Be Prepared

Although no one wants to get hurt, as you know, injuries can happen at any time and it helps to be prepared. That means understanding your legal rights and responsibilities. If you are prepared, your chances of getting the help you need increase dramatically. If you are not prepared, the consequences can be disastrous.

What can I do before I get hurt?

Know how to spot an injury.

An injury can be a sudden traumatic event, or something that happens slowly over time, like repetitive motion or chemical injuries. If you are injured at work, or something about your work makes you ill or causes some medical problem or condition you had in the past to worsen, you may be entitled to any or all of the following benefits.

Know which laws apply to you.

Knowing which laws apply to you and your individual situation is one of the first steps in making sure you get the help you need. Your claim may be covered by state law, federal law or both. It is important to know which laws apply to your claim because each system provides different legal rights and imposes different responsibilities.

Pre-designate or select your treating doctor.

When you are hurt and can't work, nothing could be more important or give you greater peace of mind than knowing that you'll get the best medical care available from a physician you trust.

In California, you have the right to choose your own doctor, but only if you notify your employer, in writing, before an accident occurs. Also, this must be a doctor with whom you've treated in the past — someone like your family doctor. If you don't, your employer's insurance company will choose your doctor for you and, while most doctors are honest and caring, some care more about the insurance company and their next paycheck than they do about you or your problems.

Although the Longshore Act and its extensions allow you to pick your doctor after an injury, if you wait you are going to have to make this decision almost immediately and when you are least able to do so. Once again, if you have not made this decision in advance, you may end up with less than the best available medical care.

Know how to report an accident or injury.

If an injury is not reported promptly and properly, your employer or their insurance company may refuse to believe that you were hurt or that your injury happened at work. If that happens, you may have to wait months or years for medical treatment or money to live on. Don't wait!

Other insurance benefits can be very helpful.

If your claim is accepted, workers' compensation benefits include medical treatment for your injuries only and the replacement of some, but not all, of your lost income. If your claim is denied, your employer or its insurance company will refuse to provide any benefits until after your claim has been litigated. This can take months or sometimes years. This is why group health insurance, short- or long-term disability, credit insurance and mortgage insurance policies are so important. These policies, along with State Disability and Social Security Disability insurance, can fill in the gaps and in some cases keep you afloat until you are able to return to work.

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Law Offices of Richard Mark Baker
115 Pine Avenue, Suite 300
Long Beach, CA 90802

Phone: 562-628-9400
Fax: 562-628-1617
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