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#954 Earthquake: Injuries / healthcare

Here’s the smart way to learn what to do if you were hurt or disabled as a result of an earthquake. In this messages, you will hear information about medical and mental health assistance, how to receive financial assistance for loss of income resulting from injury or illness and your right to receive emergency medical care. Please have a pen and paper ready to write information you may need later, such as phone numbers.

If you have suffered physical injuries from an earthquake and do not have health insurance and you cannot afford to pay for medical treatment or mental health care then you have the right to county provided medical care and treatment that is deemed medically necessary. If you need such treatment go to one of the county hospitals or medical clinics. At county facilities you are not obligated to pay up front charges before you receive care. For more information about government health benefits such as Medical, listen to Smartlaw message number 640.

Another source of financial assistance to pay for serious medical care is FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. To register for assistance by telephone, call (800) 621-3362. That’s (800) 621-3362 or visit
If you are in need of mental health counseling or information as a result of an earthquake the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health can be reached at 1-800-854-7771.

The next part of this message discusses your right to receive financial assistance for loss of income resulting from injury or illness at work.

If you were injured or became ill at work during the earthquake and are no longer able to work you may be entitled to receive medical treatment or temporary disability benefits provided through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider.

To apply for workers compensation benefits you must notify your employer as soon as possible and obtain a claim form from your employer. The employer is required to provide you with a claim form within one day of learning about your on the job injury. You must fill out and return that form to your employer. If you are declared disabled by your treating doctor, you are entitled to begin receiving temporary disability benefits paid by employer’s workers’ compensation insurance within 14 days after they know of your injury. If your employer does not provide you with a workers’ compensation claim form, or is not helpful in giving information about your on the job injury to its workers’ compensation insurance company, or if your injury is serious you should seek the advice of an attorney who practices in workers’ compensation law. To be transferred to a Smartlaw representative for an attorney referral, press 199.

Another program that may provide benefits to you is the State Disability Program through the Employment Development Department (EDD). You should know that you cannot collect benefits under workers compensation insurance and state disability at the same time. For more information on qualifying for disability benefits visit or call (800)480-3287 or (866)658-8846 (En Español).

If you were covered by a private long-term disability insurance policy, then you may be entitled to receive more than the maximum amount available under state disability. However, some long-term disability policies only entitle you to receive the difference between workers’ compensation benefits you are receiving and the maximum amount of long term disability benefits that are provided under a long-term disability policy. This means that the amount of workers’ compensation benefits would be subtracted from the amount of long-term disability benefit that you would otherwise be entitled to.

The next part of this message discusses your right to receive emergency medical care.

If you are seriously injured or ill, or are in danger of a serious illness or loss of life, you have the right to receive medical treatment at the emergency room of a licensed hospital, if that hospital has appropriate facilities, equipment and personnel. In fact, you have the right to receive emergency services without first being questioned about the ability to pay. However, you may be required to give insurance, credit information or sign an agreement to pay for services after you have received emergency medical services.

If you go to a licensed hospital that does not have an emergency room, then the hospital employees must try to determine if your injury or illness is an emergency and must help you get the emergency help you need. This includes directing you to a nearby hospital or emergency room and transfer you to necessary facilities if needed.

If you need to hire an attorney, press 199 now to be connected with a SmartLaw Referral representative. You can also call (213) 243-1525 or visit

For more information about what the Smartlaw Referral & Information Service can do for you, listen to message 103. If you need low-cost of free legal assistance, listen to message 104 through 112.

To hear a list of other earthquake-related information messages, press 950.

Would you like to listen to another message? If so, press the three-digit message number now.

This message was brought to you by SmartLaw, the nation’s oldest and largest Lawyer Referral & Information Service, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Bar Association. This message has provided legal information and is not intended to take the place of the advice of a lawyer. If this has been helpful, please tell your friends and family about the service.

Thank you for calling the Smartlaw Information Line, the smart way to get legal information.

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