If an Employee is injured at work beyond first aid, the employer has an immediate duty to provide the injured employee a claim form. The employee is legally obligated to complete the claim form and return it to the employer in order to receive worker’s compensation benefits. Here is a link to the official claim form used in California:Claim Form DWC-1
There is no discretion for the employer – they are required to provide it to the employee if an injury at work:
(a) requires medical treatment beyond first aid,
(b) results in lost time for a full day or shift beyond the date of injury.
Cumulative trauma claims are recognized in California. These kinds of injuries occur over time, during the course of your regular work duties. For example, a dentist who develops neck and back problems from 30 years of bending over. A secretary developing carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel syndrome from years of computer work. It becomes more difficult when there is no specific injury, like a trip and fall. The employee, if reporting an injury occurring over time, has to be very clear with the employer that they want to claim a work injury. If you just comment to your boss, “Yeah, my back hurts today.” That does not trigger anything.
You have to contact someone in a supervisory position and clearly state that you want to file worker’s compensation injury. Otherwise, you haven’t reported anything. Think about it, your employer is not allowed to ask you about your medical history. That means the burden is on the employee to report a work injury.