INJURED WORKERS, APPLICATIONS FOR ADJUDICATION OF CLAIM, AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

In California, the Application for Adjudication of Claim is an important form for Injured Workers. Application form is used by Injured Workers to initiate a claim before the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB.)

The Application is the first step for an injured Worker to have their claim litigated before a neutral party which is the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. The WCAB provides  Judges who are capable of hearing disputes and rendering opinions, decisions, orders and awards.  Applications are important to file because WCAB cases have a statute of limitation with respect to the filing of cases.

This article will discuss the various Applications for Adjudication of Claim, and their purpose.

What is an Application for Adjudication of Claim Form?

The Application for Adjudication of Claim is a form which is currently used as the initiating document at  the WCAB.   An Application filed properly at the WCAB will be assigned a case number. These case numbers are commonly known as ADJ numbers.  In sum, the Application is the beginning for formal proceedings.

In essence, the Application document is similar to a Civil Court Complaint.

Is There are Charge for Filing an Application?

For injured Workers, there is no charge to file an Application.

Are There Different Types of Applications for Adjudication?

Yes. There are different Applications.   The most common Application is for injuries which do not involve the death of the injured worker.  The other Application is for death cases and it is to be used by the dependents of the deceased worker.

Do You Have to Be a Certain Age to File an Application?

Yes. You must be 18 years of age.  Thus, for underaged Injured Workers or Dependents, they must have a Guardian Ad Litem file the Application on their behalf.

Are Applications Difficult to Prepare? Can You Make Mistakes?

Applications are not difficult to prepare.   For Injured Workers without attorneys, they can fill the Application out the best was possible.   They should however, contact the Information and Assistance Officer to make sure that it will be filed properly and be assigned a case number.  Otherwise, Injured Workers can employ an attorney and they can file the Application on their behalf.

If mistakes are made on the initial Application filing or new information becomes available, an Application can be amended.

Is an Application Different from a Claim Form?

Yes. An Application is different than a Claim Form.  A Claim Form is the opening document for the claims administrator.   In other words, a claim form will initiate the insurance company to start investigating a claim of injury.  A claim form can trigger entitlement for the Injured Worker to collect benefits and receive medical treatment.   The claim form, however, is not the form used to initiate dispute resolution before the WCAB.

What If I Need 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 over 28 years. Contact us today for more information.

HOME HEALTHCARE WORKERS AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Home Healthcare is an important field in California.  Many individuals require in-home services for a variety of medical conditions.  Home Healthcare Workers (HHCW) can be employed in a variety of ways including through the State.

This article will discuss Home Healthcare Workers, their tasks, and the occupational risks of HHCWs.

What Are Home Healthcare Workers? 

Per the United States Department of Labor, “[h]ome healthcare workers provide hands-on long-term care and personal assistance to clients with disabilities or other chronic conditions. These workers, who may be home health aides, personal/home care aides, companions, nursing assistants or home health nurses, are employed in patients’ homes and in community-based services such as group homes.”

What Tasks Do They Perform?

“Depending on their training and job duties, they help patients with activities of daily living such as meals, bathing, dressing and housekeeping, and may perform clinical tasks such as medication administration, wound care, blood pressure readings and range of motion exercises.”  USDL

What are The Home Healthcare Hazards?

Home Healthcare Workers are subject to a large variety of hazards.  They include bloodborne and biological pathogens, latex sensitivities, ergonomic hazards, violence, hostile animals, dangerous conditions and unhygienic conditions.

How Do These Problems Occur?

Bloodborne and Biological Pathogens: This can include saliva, urine and feces.  These can occur while performing injections or changing bags such as urostomy bags.

Latex Sensitivity: This can arise out of the use of gloves. Glove use can result in contact dermatitis.

Ergonomic Hazards:  This can arise from working at a patient’s home which is not set up in an ergonomic fashion.  For example, lifting may be required in an awkward position.

Violence: This most commonly arises in patients that suffer from dementia.  They have the capacity to act out in a violent fashion.  This can include being bitten, kicked, pinched, punched, scratched, or shoved.

Hostile Animals: This most commonly relates to aggressive family pets who may bite or jump on workers.  Additionally, they can be tripping hazards as well.

Dangerous Conditions: These conditions can arise from physical defects on the premises as well as exposures to drug residues, infectious agents and cleaning chemicals..

Unhygienic Conditions: Unlike hospitals, home settings may not have proper disposal of biological waste. This can result in transmission of pathogens.

Travel: Home Healthcare Worker may service more than one patient in a day.  Thus, there duties may include travel from one location to another

Environmental Hazards: This can include second-hand smoke, exposure to asbestos, exposure to lead paint and exposure to allergens such as dust and mold.

What If I Need 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 over 28 years. Contact us today for more information.

 

COMMON WORK INJURIES AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The Workers’ Compensation System is a Risk Management System.  It is designed to payout benefits for work-related injuries.   Therefore, it is very important for the industry to identify what types of injuries and occupations have high risk of injury.

The US Government has a Bureau of Labor Statistics which identify both common injuries and what occupations are at risk for injury.  On 11/4/20, statistics were issued for the year 2019.

This article will discuss common work-related injuries, occupations which have high rates of incidence for work injuries and other information.

What are Common Worker Related Injuries?

In the Manufacturing Field, the Injuries Rates were:  Sprains, Strains, or Tears (28.0 percent), Soreness or Pain (14.5 percent), and Cuts, Lacerations, or Punctures (13.3 percent)

What Occupations Have Higher Rates of Injury?

In order of incidences, per the BLS report, the occupations with the highest rate of injuries are listed from highest to lowest:

Nurses Assistants

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers

Laborers and freight, Stock and Material Movers, Hand

Light Truck Drivers

Construction Laborers

Maintenance and Repair Workers, General

Stockers and Order Fillers

Janitors and Cleaners, except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners

Registered Nurses

Retail Salespersons

Is There Other Interesting Data? 

Yes.

Elderly Workers:  “Private industry workers age 65 years or over had a median of 16 days away from work due to injuries and illnesses in 2019, compared to 8 days for all private industry workers.”

Male vs. Female Workers:  Men had higher injury rates that Women in 2019.

What Does This Data Mean to Workers?

Employers and Risk Management, knowing this data, will act upon these matter.   For example, Carriers may pay close attention to elderly injured workers due to the fact that they have extended periods of disability.  There may be some incentive to offer them modified work.  Further, for occupations that have high work injury rates, safety classes and other measures may be implemented to address lifting techniques and other techniques to prevent risk.

What If I Need 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 over 28 years. Contact us today for more information.

Injured Workers and Medical Releases: Insurance Companies Requesting Releases and Workers’ Compensation: What You Need to Know

Injured Workers are frequently requested by Insurance Carriers to sign medical release forms.   These releases are also requested by Attorneys who represent both Injured Workers and those who represent Insurance Companies.

This article will discuss workers’ compensation discovery, medical releases, the different types of medical releases, and why insurance carriers and attorneys request medical releases.

What is Discovery?

“Discovery” is a legal term. It essentially means “information gathering” within a legal system. Legal systems, such as the California Workers’ Compensation System provides laws concerning this discovery. Examples of workers’ compensation discovery include witness depositions, medical records subpoenas, and medical-legal examinations.

Records can be obtained formally and informally.  The formal was is by subpoena.  The informal way is by consent.  Consent is obtained via a signed medical release authorizing the document production.

Why Is Workers’ Compensation Discovery Unique?

Workers’ Compensation (WC) Discovery is unique in that is pace is set within the Labor Code. Labor Code Section 5402 provides that Insurance Companies have 90 days, from the date of employer discovery of the claim.

WC Discovery is used to find out a variety of information. Medical records may allow the Insurance Company to verify the injury.   Medical records can provide information about one’s medical history which can impact the Claimant’s entitlement to compensation.

Beyond workers’ compensation, there are federal rules which address medical privacy issues.  This federal law is HIPPA which created national standards to protect individual’s medical records and other personal health information.  It “generally gives patients the right to examine and obtain a copy of their own health records.”  HIPPA

Why Are Medical Releases Important for Discovery?

Labor Code Section 5402 creates urgency for the insurance companies to obtain the claimant’s information as soon as possible.  Medical releases allow for medical records to be produced in a more expeditious fashion.

Also, there releases may authorize psychiatric or drug and alcohol treatment.  A medical release must specify these records.   Releases does not require these releases.  Thus, Injured Workers, especially if the claim is not a psychiatric claim, do not and should not sign a release for these records.   This is noted in the case of Allison vs. WCAB, , it was noted that “[t]he Supreme Court ruled that although the plaintiffs waived their physician-patient confidential communication privilege (Evid. Code, § 990[Deering’s] et seq.) and their psychotherapist-patient confidential communication privilege (Evid. Code, § 1010[Deering’s] et seq.) as to the medical, emotional, and mental conditions placed by them in issue in the case, and information regarding such conditions was therefore discoverable, all medical privacy was not waived.” 64 C.C.C. 624

Is there an Obligation to Provide a Release?

There is no obligation for an Injured Worker to provide a release to an Insurance Company.   Again, with psychiatric or drug and alcohol treatment releases, these should be scrutinized whether they are relevant.

What Happens If I Do Not Sign Releases?

Sometimes, when releases are not signed, a carrier will deny a claim based upon the lack of cooperation in discovery.   Insurance Companies also have the power to subpena records.  Therefore, they can obtain the records.  It may, however, take more time and paperwork to do so.

What If I Need 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 over 28 years. Contact us today for more information.

NURSES: DOES YOUR WORKING SHIFT MATTER?  MUSCULOSKELETAL INJURIES, SHIFT CHOICE AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Nurses are at risk for work-related musculoskeletal injuries (WMSD.)  A study addressed whether a Nurse’s Work Shift impacted WMSDs.

This article will discuss Nursing, Nursing Shifts, and how particular Shift Work may impact industrial injuries.

What Are Nursing Duties? What Makes Nurse at Risk for Injury?

Nursing Duties are physically demanding.  Patient care can require individuals to work in awkward positions and deal with individuals whose weight can shift at any moment.

“WMSDs(work-related musculoskeletal disorders) in nurses are mainly caused by shifting patients (which includes helping patients turn over or get in and out of bed), routine treatments in nursing, poorly designed work environments, and remaining active for prolonged periods of time.4 The physiological loads created by these nursing activities are all risk factors of WMSDs in nurses.” Chang WP, Peng YX. Differences between fixed day shift nurses and rotating and irregular shift nurses in work-related musculoskeletal disorders: A literature review and meta-analysis. J Occup Health. 2021 Jan;63(1):e12208. doi: 10.1002/1348-9585.12208. PMID: 33682989; PMCID: PMC7938703.

Likewise, “cllinical nurses must deal with daily routine work in busy wards, patient care and treatment, and correspondence for various matters. Their jobs are time‐consuming, complicated, and full of stress, and they are often on tight schedules, all of which are associated with WMSDs.” Supra.

What Musculoskeletal Body Parts Do Nurses Injure?

Nurses are susceptible to injury for every body part imaginable.   This includes the neck, shoulders and back.

Nurses are prone to WMSDs in the lower back, shoulders, neck, back wrists, knees, and ankles. Supra.

What are Shifts?

Hospitals and other medical facilities provide 24 hours a day service for 7 days a week.  Thus, the facilities have various work shifts.  Some facilities may have 8-hour shifts, some 10-hour shifts, and others 12-hour shifts.    

What Shifts are There?

Within an 8-hour format, there is generally a morning shift, an evening shift, and an overnight shift.

How Do Nurses’ Shifts Vary?

Nurses can have regular fixed shifts.   Also, there are Nurses who have rotating or irregular shifts.

What was the Study About?

The study focused on Nurses who worked rotating and irregular shifts. The theory of the study was that “working rotating and irregular shifts, which causes the physiological burden of disrupted circadian rhythms in the body, may also exacerbate muscle tension and pain.” Differences between fixed day shift nurses and rotating and irregular shift nurses in work-related musculoskeletal disorders: A literature review and meta-analysis. J Occup Health. 2021 Jan;63(1):e12208. doi: 10.1002/1348-9585.12208. PMID: 33682989; PMCID: PMC7938703.

What Were the Results?

The study “indicated that RS (rotating shifts) + IS (irregular shifts) nurses are more likely to experience back pain associated with WMSD than are FDS (fixed day shift) nurses.”  Differences between fixed day shift nurses and rotating and irregular shift nurses in work-related musculoskeletal disorders: A literature review and meta-analysis. J Occup Health. 2021 Jan;63(1):e12208. doi: 10.1002/1348-9585.12208. PMID: 33682989; PMCID: PMC7938703.

In sum, Nurses working irregular shift are more likely to experience musculoskeletal disorders.

As a Lawyer, Are There Any Reasons That May Cause the Higher Rate?

In my opinion, irregular shifts can include irregular routines.  Nurses who have regular shifts may have better understanding of their shift’s physical requirements.   Also, they may be more familiar with their surroundings.   Thus, they are able to take better precaution to prevent injury.

What If I Need 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 over 28 years. Contact us today for more information.

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