A horrendous accident happened when an alleged drunk driver struck a parked California Highway Patrol aka CHP Squad Vehicle on the freeway.  It is reported that the driver was traveling 95 miles per hour upon impact and that the cruiser. The police car erupted into flames.

The Officers were rushed to the hospital.  One is with major injuries and the two others with moderate.  One Officer was reported to have a neck brace on.  It was reported that one Officer was dragged out the burning vehicle.

Taking these facts, a hypothetical analysis of this incident will be done with an assumption that one of the Officers sustained burn injuries

Initially, What Benefits Will These Officers Receive?

California Highway Patrol Officers will initially receive a form of salary continuation benefits.  Once salary continuation benefits have been paid, total temporary disability benefits will be picked up and paid at the “state rate,” The “state rate” is a term used for the regular rate mandated for claims.

 Since The Officers Were In the Same Accident, Will Each Officer Get The Same Benefits?

 No. While the California Highway Patrol Officers were in the same accident, they will all receive different benefits.  Workers’ Compensation Benefits are based upon each individual’s injuries, their age, and their needs.

Assuming one of the Officers had severe burns, total temporary disability benefits can extended out to “240 compensable weeks within a period of five years from the date of the injury.” Labor Code Section 4656(a).   This is opposed to other Officers who most likely do not have other 4656 exceptions apply.  They would be eligible for a total of 104 weeks of temporary disability benefits.

What About Permanent Disability?

For permanent disability, each Officer will be assessed upon their body parts injured and their impairments.   Likewise, they will be assessed differently based upon their age.  Older officers will have a higher rating than younger officers irrespective that the injury happened on the same date. It is possible that the Officers may sustain the exact injury and impairment and get different ratings. This would be caused by the age adjustment in the rating.  The only item in the rating that the officers will share is that they will be assigned the same occupational group for their rating.

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 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

Did A Not So Soup-er Customer Cause A Work Injury?: Injured Workers In the News, #1

Restaurant Workers, with both COVID-19 and work shortages, are encountering unprecedented stress.  Restrictions and delays have customers are acting out in outrageous ways.  Recently, a Restaurant Manager had a scary encounter with hot soup.

It is reported that an angry Customer threw hot soup in a Restaurant Manager’s face.  The Customer was upset because she found plastic melted into the soup.  The soup was spicy menudo.  Criminal charges have been filed against the Customer.  The Manager, who was struck by the soup, stated  “the experience itself was traumatizing and heartbreaking.’ ‘[I] felt my spirit had been broken just knowing someone could do something so awful and then laugh about it.’

Was There A Workers’ Compensation Injury? 

Possibly. A workers’ compensation injury requires that a body part be injured.  From the facts, it is possible that the Manager suffered a burn injury as a result of the hot soup.   Also, it is possible that she may have suffered an injury to her eyes.  Additionally, she may have suffered a psychiatric injury. From the reports, she expressed some emotions concerning the incident.

Any injury claim should be supported by medical evidence.  Thus, a medical report documenting a burn is important.  The same would be with respect to an eye injury.  Finally, any psychiatric injury claim should be supported by the opinion of either a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Why Is The Burn Injury Unique In This Case?

In this case, under California Law,  if the Manager’s eyes were burned in the incident she might be entitled to an extended period of disability benefits.   Chemically burned eyes is a basis for these extended benefits.  Whether spicy soup would be considered as a “chemical” would be an issue worthy of litigation.  The soup may have contained particular chemicals that could cause an ocular burn. Medical opinion would be required to prove this fact.

Are There Any Other Sources of Benefits Beyond Workers’ Compensation?

In light of the alleged criminal activity, the manager, if in California, could seek assistance through the California Victims’ of Crime program.

Also, there is a possible lawsuit for personal injury against the customer who caused the injury.

If the Customer’s Complaint About the Soup Was Correct, Would That Impact A Workers’ Compensation Claim?

No.  With respect to workers’ compensation law, claims are “no fault.”  Thus, even if the manager had been responsible for the hot soup problem, she would still be able to pursue a work injury claim.

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.


California Firefighters are tasked with some of the most difficult jobs.   California is perhaps the Forest Fire Capitol of the United States or even the World!  Firefighters provide a vital services in ensuring that we live in safety.

In performing their duties, Firefighters get hurt and have industrial claims.   California Firefighters’ work injuries have been studied by the Rand Corporation and they have prepared a recent report. The study is entitled The Frequency and Economic Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders for California Firefighters: Trends and Outcomes of the Past Decade, Dworsky, Seabury, and Broten.

This article will address the most recent Rand Corporation Study and what it means to Firefighter and their careers with respect to their work injuries.

What Is the Rand Corporation? What Did It Study?

Rand Corporation is commonly known as a “think tank.”   According to Rand, it “was established over 70 years ago to strengthen public policy through research and analysis. Over seven decades, our research teams have answered the difficult questions and generated actionable insights by combining the very best analytical tools and methods with a distinct, interdisciplinary approach.”  They are frequently used by government, such as the State of California to do research.   The term “public policy” implies that their results can impact laws and proposed legislation.   For our purposes, their conclusions may become the impetus for new changes in workers’ compensation law.

The Rand Corporation Study, with respect to California Firefighters was done with “[t]he purpose of this report was to provide new information to policymakers about the frequency, nature, and consequences of firefighter injuries in California, with a particular focus on MSDs.”  In other words, the State of California may use the data to change workers’ compensation law with respect to Firefighters, or Fire Departments may change their risk management approaches to attempt to reduce claims.

What Did the Rand Study Find?

Highest Rate of Injuries

The Rand Study found that “firefighters are significantly more likely to be injured than workers in other occupations.”

Highest Rate of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)

The Rand Study found that “ a larger share of those injuries are MSDs.”

Specifically, we found that nearly half (47 percent) of firefighter injuries are MSDs, compared to 38 percent for police officers, 42 percent for other public-sector workers, 37 percent in our private-sector comparison group with similar job requirements to firefighters, and 42 percent for other private-sector workers.

Spine and Knee Injures Are More Common Than Upper Extremity Injuries

The Study found that there were “differences in the nature and cause of firefighter injuries. Compared to other occupations, injuries to firefighters are less likely to involve the upper extremities and significantly more likely to involve lower extremities or the trunk. Strains are the modal cause of injury for firefighters.”

Burn Injuries Are More Significant Than Other Occupations

The Rand Study found that “burns are significantly more common among firefighters than other workers but still represent a small share of injuries (6 percent) in comparison to MSDs.”

Cumulative Trauma vs. Specific Dates of Injury

The Rand Study found that “a lower share of firefighter injuries were reported as being due to cumulative trauma than workers in other occupations.”

Psychiatric Injuries for Firefighters

The Rand Study shows that the dated indicated that “firefighters and police have similar rates of psychiatric comorbidities. However, perhaps surprisingly, incidence rates of psychological injuries—including PTSD—for public safety workers are substantially lower than rates observed among other public-sector workers or comparable private-sector workers.”

Note: as noted in the study, Firefighters may carry with them a stigma concerning mental health issues.   Firefighters with mental health concerns may seek treatment privately rather than file a work injury claim.

Is There Any Good News for Firefighters with respect to the Study?

There was some good news in the Rand Study for Firefighters. The economic consequences of musculoskeletal disorders was less serve than for other similar occupations.   It was noted the Fire Departments appear to do better than other employers, including other public sector employers, at retaining Injured Workers.   Also, SB 863, a recent law change, provided for higher ratings for MSD injuries for Firefighters.  Finally, there was no evidence found that treatment caps for chiropractic, occupational therapy, or physical medicine treatments did not substantially impact most Firefighters.

What is there to Make of the Rand Study?

In light of the findings, it would appear that there would be no effort to try to increase additional indemnity to Firefighters.   Further,  it would appear that there would be no effort to change treatment protocol as well.  Perhaps, injury rate reduction would be explored.   In sum, risk management for the departments may try to take steps to reduce injuries.  Any reduction may be difficult to achieve due to the job’s physical demands.

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 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

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