In the news, a recent horrifying event allegedly occurred at the Gardena Community Hospital.  It is reported that dead covid-19 patients’ bodies were mishandled. The allegation reported is that these bodies were left outside in the rain. An anonymous witness indicated that “Security had tears in their eyes. They’re crying. Some of the security had to leave because they got fluid on their clothes when they did move the bodies,” the witness said.

The issue presented is whether this event could be a work-related injury.

Was There a Work-Related Injury?

Possibly. The alleged facts are certainly extremely distressful.  Further, they did create an emotional reaction.  The question, however, is whether this stressful event caused an emotional injury. Labor Code Section 3208.3(a), provides that “[a] psychiatric injury shall be compensable if it is a mental disorder which causes disability or need for medical treatment, and it is diagnosed pursuant to procedures promulgated under paragraph (4) of subdivision (j) of section 139.2 or, until these procedures are promulgated, it is diagnosed using the terminology and criteria of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition-Revised, or the terminology or criteria of other psychiatric diagnostic manuals generally approved and accepted nationally by practitioners in the field of psychiatric medicine.”

Thus, if the Security Guards went to a mental health practitioner and were diagnosed with a mental disorder, they may be able to pursue a claim.  Mere upset or distress relating to the event would not be a sufficient basis to pursue a claim.

Who Was the Employer?

Workers’ Compensation claims are to be filed against one’s employer.  Security Guards at facilities are often employees of independent Security Companies that contract with institutions.  In other words, the hospital may have hired a security company to provide security guards.  If this is the case, the security guards would file their workers’ compensation claim with their company and not the hospital.  If they were hospital employees, they would file with the hospital.

What If I Need Legal Advice?

If you would like a free consultation concerning any workers’ compensation case, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. They have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their worker’s compensation cases for 28 years. Contact us today for more information.

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