At SpaceX, Worker Injuries Soar Amidst Elon Musk’s Race to Mars: Injured Workers in the News, #101

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Company has been beset with work injuries.  According to the, the injuries have included cuts or lacerations, broken bones, dislocations,,  hands or fingers were ‘crushed,’ head injuries, skull fractures, concussions and a traumatic brain injury. Further, there have been burns and eye injuries.

There are allegations of safety failures.

Specifically, in California, the article reports that “[s]enior managers at the Hawthorne, California site had been repeatedly warned about the dangers of rushing the engine’s development, along with inadequate training of staff and testing of components.”

This article will discuss the nature of these work accidents and the special benefits that may apply.

What Special Benefits Can Be Received For Amputations, Burns or Eye Injuries?

In California, there are special extended total temporary disability benefits in the case of amputations, burns and eye injuries.  With respect to burns or eye injuries, there are special criteria which apply. Labor Code 4656(c)(3), provides: (c)(3) Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), for an employee who suffers from the following injuries or conditions, aggregate disability payments for a single injury occurring on or after April 19, 2004, causing temporary disability shall not extend for more than 240 compensable weeks within a period of five years from the date of the injury: (A) Acute and chronic hepatitis B. (B) Acute and chronic hepatitis C. (C) Amputations. (D) Severe burns. (E) Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). (F) High-velocity eye injuries. (G) Chemical burns to the eyes. (H) Pulmonary fibrosis. (I) Chronic lung disease.”

Thus, for burn injury claims, an analysis must be made as to whether it could be considered as “severe”.  With respect to eye injuries, there must be a causation analysis.  Was the accident caused by a fast-moving object? Did chemicals cause burns to the eyes?

If There Had Been Repeated Warnings of Dangers, Can This Trigger Additional Compensation?

Labor Code Section 4553 provides for increased compensation if there is serious and willful misconduct.  This requires a separate filing and has a different statute of limitation applicable.  Serious and Willful Claims usually requires a finding from the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.  Labor Code Section 4553 indicated “The amount of compensation otherwise recoverable shall be increased one-half, together with costs and expenses not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250), where the employee is injured by reason of the serious and willful misconduct of any of the following: (a) The employer, or his managing representative. (b) If the employer is a partnership, on the part of one of the partners or a managing representative or general superintendent thereof.(c) If the employer is a corporation, on the part of an executive, managing officer, or general superintendent thereof.”

What If I Need Legal Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 30 years. Contact us today for more information.

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