You need to file workers comp paperwork to qualify for workers comp. The most important document in workers comp is the workers comp claim form. This form is available from your employer, the workers comp insurance company, or by this link: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/DWCForm1.pdf. You should submit the workers comp claim form as soon as possible.
Generally, you have one year from the date of your injury to file this paperwork with your local workers compensation appeals board (court) and let your employer know about your injury. Sometimes, you could have up to 5 years to allege your workers comp injury. You should fill out an application for adjudication for workers comp benefits as soon as possible after you are injured. This will be filed with the workers comp court and the insurance company (if applicable). Also, your employer needs to know about your injury within 30 days, or you may need to show other circumstances.
You also should apply for State Disability (EDD) as soon as possible. The forms are available here: http://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/di_how_to_file_a_claim.htm
Make sure your doctor signs and certifies your disability and sends the form in. You will be eligible for 52 weeks of disability in most cases per injury. If you are declared permanent and stationary, your workers comp disability benefits may be cut off. You should not be working while you receive state disability, unless you are only partially disabled or other circumstances. You must let the State know if you are receiving workman’s comp checks and state disability. This could lead to you owing money to the State for an overpayment of workers comp benefits or because of a duplication of workers comp disability benefits.
The workers comp insurance company generally has 90 days to accept or deny your workers comp claim. Also, if they do not pick-up benefits, they should provide you with an acknowledgement of your workers comp claim, usually within 14 days.
Your workers comp checks should be 2/3 of your average weekly wages for the year preceding your workers comp injury. This is the general rule, with several exceptions including dual or concurrent employment. Also, there are minimum and maximum benefits. You could be eligible for workers comp even if you only worked a few hours and were injured.
What about workers comp for independent contractors? Generally, workers comp is available only to employees. However, workers comp may be available to contractors under several bases. Also, you could be eligible for workers comp if you employer misclassified you as an independent contractor. Check here for more information on workers comp benefits for independent contractors: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_independentcontractor.htm