A Guide to Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for Agricultural Workers
California law extends workers’ compensation protection to agricultural workers—including undocumented farmworkers–and requires that this information is posted prominently at the workplace. Unfortunately, not all agricultural employers are in compliance with workers’ compensation laws in San Jose and even when an employer is in compliance, farmworkers often fear workplace retaliation. Because of the complexities involved with agricultural workers’ compensation claims, it’s advisable for farmworkers to protect themselves by consulting a workers’ compensation attorney.
Notifying the Employer
After sustaining a workplace injury or illness, the first step the injured farmworker should take is to notify the employer. California law requires that this is done within 30 days of becoming aware of the injury. If the situation is a medical emergency, then farmworkers should call 911 first and notify the employer as soon as is practical.
Seeing a Doctor
Injured agricultural workers should see a doctor promptly and inform the doctor that they have been injured while on the job. To secure workers’ comp benefits, it’s necessary for farmworkers to follow all of the doctor’s instructions, including taking medications and scheduling follow-up medical appointments. Farmworkers should obtain directions in writing regarding whether there are any work restrictions because of the injury or whether they need to remain out of work for a period of time.
Opening a Workers’ Compensation Case
As soon as medical care is sought and the injury is stabilized, injured agricultural workers can contact an attorney to learn about their legal rights and options. An attorney can ensure that all the paperwork is completed properly, including form DWC 1, which is required to open a workers’ comp case and receive benefits.
Seeking Benefits from the Uninsured Employers Trust Fund
Sometimes, agricultural employers violate state law by not having workers’ compensation insurance. Even if this is the case, injured workers may still be able to secure benefits with the help of a lawyer. One option is to apply for benefits through the Uninsured Employers Trust Fund. The process for applying for these benefits is even more complex than applying for ordinary workers’ comp benefits. It’s strongly advisable that injured agricultural workers consult an attorney who is knowledgeable in these matters.