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California Board of Legal Specialization | Certified Specialist in Workers' Compensation Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization
Law Offices of Vincent J. Scotto, III, Attorneys & Lawyers Employment & Workers Compensation, San Mateo, CA

San Mateo Workplace Injury Law Blog

Workplace accident in California kill one, injures another

Construction crews in California are usually at work year-round. They make roadway improvements, build new establishments and ensure that water and sewage pipes work correctly. These crews, which can be quite large and include heavy machinery, can work at a frantic pace, especially when emergencies arise. However, with so many moving pieces, workers on construction crews can find themselves at risk of being seriously injured or even killed in a workplace accident.

This tragically happened recently in Scotts Valley when a dump truck backed over a construction worker, killing him. According to reports, the crew was on scene to clean up a mudslide that had blocked part of Highway 17 when the accident occurred. Another worker was pinned under the truck, but was later extracted and taken to the hospital. He is expected to survive. The California Highway Patrol is investigating the accident to determine exactly what went wrong.

Appealing a denied workers' compensation claim

When a workers' compensation claim gets denied, it can be very disheartening. It means the claims administrator does not think the injury is covered by workers' compensation, but their word is not the final word-as mentioned in the last post, it is possible to appeal the decision.

As per the Department of Industrial Relations, there are 24 locations across the state to file a case objecting to the denial of the claim. Each office is basically a court where a judge, not a jury, decides the case. So, how does one get their appeal in front of the judge? Firstly, it is important to act quickly, as there are deadlines to file the necessary paperwork.

Why was my workers' compensation claim denied?

Most people, including California residents, want to do their best while working. Wanting to make a good impression, many work long hours and perform difficult, often dangerous and sometimes tedious tasks. Which is why a workplace injury may set them back both emotionally and financially-emotionally because they do not want to lose out on a project and financially because medical bills could end up being very high. However, workers' compensation is one way injured workers can get the compensation they deserve after a work-related accident with less stress.

However, when a workers' compensation claim is denied, it can leave the injured worker confused and frustrated. Firstly, because they do not understand why the claim was denied-they were after all injured and the injury took place at the workplace. Secondly, because they do not know what the next step is.

California's obligations to avoid injuries from heat exposure

The weather may seem like it is cooling down in California but for those working outdoors, the weather continues to pose a health risk. When workers, such as those in construction jobs, spend an elongated time outdoors and exposed to the sun, they run the risk of contracting sun stroke or other dangerous conditions. Recognizing the risk, California lawmakers have placed obligations on employers, forcing them to take steps to reduce the risk and avoid occupational illness.

As per state law, employers must implement a heat stroke and stress prevention program. This program includes provision of water that should be pure, portable, suitably cool and provided free of charge. In addition to this, it should be provided sufficiently close to the area where employees are working. Employers working in the sun should also be provided hourly breaks in the shade-5-minute cool-down breaks in the shade every hour. In addition to this, employees will be permitted to take a break whenever they feel like they are overheating and during this break; they will be monitored and asked about symptoms.

What is the link between chronic injury and workplace injuries?

Feeling pain is inevitable-something as small as a paper cut or something as serious as a muscle sprain can cause pain in a California resident's life. Generally, we expect the injury to resolve itself and once one is healed, for the pain to subside. However, this is not always the case. In some instances, the pain continues for months and even years.

Chronic pain, as it is defined, is when someone keeps hurting, feeling pain for three to six months or more. Generally, when someone feels pain, it is coming from a series of messages that are going through the nervous system-an injury turns on pain sensors in the injured area. The sensors send a signal to the brain, which processes it and sends out a message that one is hurt. When the injury heals, the signal stops. But in chronic pain, the nerve keeps sending out signals long after it has apparently healed.

What does work-related mean?

California residents, like their counterparts in the rest of the country, pride themselves on their work. They work hard and dedicatedly, spending more time working than they do at home, which is probably why they expect to be taken care of if they are injured in a workplace accident.

Though workers' compensation programs do exist for this very purpose, the injury must be work-related. There is an assumption of work-relatedness for injuries and illnesses contracted in the work environment-the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has guidelines for what is excluded from this.

What are temporary disability benefits in California?

Just as in any other kind of accident, a workplace injury can vary in severity. Some workers suffer scrapes, bruises and cuts that hurt and are annoying, but have little to no impact on their ability to perform their jobs. Other injuries, though, leave individuals disabled and unable to work ever again. Since workers whose workplace injuries are severe enough to knock them out of work may be able to recover workers' compensation, the system differentiates between injury severity and, therefore, benefits that can be paid out.

Many injured workers, for example, fall into a category that is somewhere between being disabled and hardly suffering a scratch. For these individuals, pursuing temporary disability benefits may be right for them. If an injured worker is still able to work but earns less as a result of the injury, then temporary partial disability benefits may be recoverable. Those who are completely unable to work while they recover from their injury will receive temporary total disability benefits unless, of course, they are not expected to return back to work.

Occupational cancer and workers' compensation

Our blog has spent a lot of time discussing workplace injuries and how they can affect not only an individual's ability to work, but also to maintain financial stability. While many Californians find themselves in this situation, where they are overwhelmed by their lost wages and unexpected medical expenses, many others find themselves in just as dire of a condition, perhaps even worse, when they are hit by a workplace illness.

One devastating medical condition that can be contracted in the workplace is cancer. Cancer is diagnosed in nearly 13 million people each year, and the number is expected to grow as it continues to be the number one killer in developed countries. Although cancer can develop under any number of circumstances, one key factor is the environment in which an individual works. If he or she is exposed to cancer-causing agents while at work, then he or she may be more likely to contract the oftentimes fatal disease.

Aggressive advocacy for those seeking workers' compensation

If you've been injured on the job, then you know the difficulties you can face as you try to recover your health. There are, of course, the physical limitations that may be thrust upon you, as well as pain, thereby requiring extensive medical care. Yet, your injuries may also leave you unable to work, which means there may come a period of time where you run out of income and deplete your savings. This, in turn, can leave you in a dire financial position where you may struggle to keep the lights on, put food on the table and otherwise provide for yourself and your family.

The good news is that if your accident occurred while you were performing your job duties, then you may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. The bad news is that obtaining these benefits isn't always as easy as it seems. Employers and insurance companies may try to dispute your claim on various grounds, including that you were not performing your job duties at the time of the incident, or that your injuries are not as severe as you are making them out to be.

California construction accident leaves 13 injured

Construction work may seem inherently dangerous, but the truth of the matter is that, so long as employers follow the regulations put in place to ensure worker safety, then workplace accidents should be relatively rare. Regardless of whether regulations are followed, a workplace accident can leave a worker in a tough position with not only physical pain that can result in limitations, but also financial losses in the form of lost wages and medical expenses. These individuals may be able to recover compensation for their losses, though, so long as they can show that they qualify for workers' compensation benefits.

Many Californians are in this position now after a construction accident left them injured. According to reports, 13 construction workers were harmed when the scaffolding on which they were working collapsed. The workers fell to the floor below them, which was a drop of more than 10 feet. The exact cause of the incident is unknown at this time, and Cal/OSHA is investigating. The injured workers were taken to the hospital and treated for injuries ranging from bruises to back sprains.

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The Law Offices of Vincent J. Scotto, III
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Telephone: 650-375-2301
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