After being injured in a workplace accident, you’re most likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to pay medical bills and lost wages, as well as possible permanent disability benefits under California’s workers’ compensation laws.

However, it can be confusing to know what to do, especially when you’re ill and worried about recovery. We’ll explain the important first steps you need to take to protect your right to workers’ compensation benefits.

After being injured at work, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. Once you have been treated for your injuries, you should then follow these five steps to ensure that you are able to collect workers’ compensation benefits.

Report the injury to your employer. Do this as soon as possible after your accident. You’re required to notify your supervisor or manager within 30 days of your accident or from the first signs of an occupational illness. If you fail to do this, you may not be eligible for benefits.

Fill out a workplace injury report. Employers are obliged to keep workplace injury reports available for employees by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. When you’ve been injured, demand to fill out the report, even when your employer says it’s not necessary, and get a copy for your records.

Seek medical care. You need to immediately get medical treatment for your injuries, no matter how minor you initially believe they are. This ensures you receive proper medical care, and these records can protect you if there are disputes with your employer’s insurance company about whether your injuries were really work-related.

File a claim. You should submit your claim for workers’ compensation benefits with the California Division of Workers’ Compensation as soon as possible after your accident. You must file a claim within two years of your injury or illness in order to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits.

Retain an attorney. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can guide you through the complexities of filing your claim and ensure you receive all the benefits you’re entitled to under California law. Hire legal counsel soon after you sustain injuries to protect your rights.