THE WORST WORK INJURY EVER? INJURED WORKER IN THE NEWS, #20

A Contract Worker was killed at a landfill in Florida in perhaps the most horrible way possible.

While he was using a Porta Potty, a bulldozer ran the portable bathroom and killed his co-worker.

The Bulldozer Operator and the Deceased Employee worked for the same company.   It is reported that the driver ‘… immediately exited the bulldozer and ran towards the porta potty to see if anyone was inside of it,’ the sheriff’s office spokesperson said. ‘At that time, he observed Henderson unresponsive inside the porta potty.’ dailymail.com

This tragic fact pattern will be discussed within California Law.  This fact pattern contains many issues as to whether a worker can sustain a work injury while using the facilities.  Further, is it possible for someone to be “at fault” and pursue a claim.

If A Worker Is On A Restroom Break, Are They Protected Under Workers’ Compensation?

California Workers’ Compensation Law provides for the “personal comfort doctrine.”  The “personal comfort doctrine” provides generally that compensation extends to injuries suffered while the employee is engaged briefly and during work hours in a personal act which is necessary or helpful to his comfort or convenience. (2 Hanna, op. cit., supra, § 9.03[2][a], pp. 9–3—9–31.) The personal comfort doctrine is not strictly limited to injuries suffered on the employer’s premises. ( Cf. State Comp. Ins. Fund v. Workmen’s Comp. App. Bd. (Cardoza) (1967) 67 Cal. 2d 925 [32 Cal. Comp. Cases 525, 64 Cal. Rptr. 323, 434 P.2d 619] Fremont Indemnity Co. v. Workers Comp. Appeals Bd. (1977) 69 Cal. App. 3d 170 [42 Cal. Comp. Cases 297, 137 Cal. Rptr. 847].) [**8]  Its limit is reached when the acts “are found to be departures effecting a temporary abandonment of employment. …” ( Id., at p. 928.) Olson Farms, Inc. v. Workers Compensation Appeals Bd. of California & Suzanne Shawnego, 51 Cal. Comp. Cases 107 (Cal. App. 3d Dist. March 05, 1986)

Thus, the Contract Worker would be covered when he used the restroom since he was engaged in a personal act which was for his comfort.  His family would be able to pursue a Death Benefit Dependency Claim.

What About The Bulldozer Operator Who Cause the Accident, Does He Have A Claim?

With this fact pattern and given the “no fault” nature of workers’ compensation, the Bulldozer Operator, if he sustained an emotional injury as a result of killing his co-worker, could file a claim.  It would appear that the incident may have psychiatrically traumatizing,

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.

A SALINAS POLICE DEPARTMENT TRAGEDY:  INJURED WORKER IN THE NEWS #18

The Salinas Police Department’s 80 year Safety Record  was broken.  Police Officer Jorge David Alvarado, while making a traffic stop, was killed.  The initial news accounts provided no family information.

This article will discuss the workers’ compensation issues that arise in this circumstance.

Workers’ Compensation provides for death benefits.  First, workers’ compensation law in California will provide for burial expenses. Officer Alvarado will be afforded burial expenses up to the amount of  $10,000.00.  Second, the workers’ compensation system law also provides dependency benefits. These types of benefits may apply to family members and others.

What Will Happen In This Circumstance Given the Known Facts?  

In this circumstance, the department’s workers’ compensation administrator will make some inquiry as to investigate whether there are dependents.  Dependents do not have to be relatives.  Generally, however, dependents tend to be spouses, children and grandchildren.

What Is a Dependent for Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ Compensation Dependents can be any person for which the Officer provided support.  In addition, there are individuals are legally entitled to support.  For example, an ex-spouse with an a support order and minor children fall into this category.  A child under 18 years of age is considered as a dependent even though there wasn’t a court order of support.

Dependency is a matter of which is subject to the trier of fact. This means a judge will make a decision concerning it.  ” Partial dependency “shall be determined in accordance with the facts as they exist at the time of the injury of the employee. ” (§ 3502, emphasis added.) The true test of dependency in fact is not whether the dependent was compelled to rely upon the deceased employee’s contributions for  the bare necessities of life, but whether the dependent relied on the contributions for support according to his or her accustomed mode of living. Wings West Airlines v. Workers Compensation Appeals Bd. of California & Dir. of Indus. Rels., 51 Cal. Comp. Cases 609 (Cal. App. 1st Dist. December 11, 1986)

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.

What You Need To Know About Injured Workers, No-Fault Injuries, & Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ Compensation, being a “no-fault” system, provides compensation for injuries caused by slips, trips and falls.

Slips, trips and falls constitute the second most common injuries within workers’ compensation.

The injuries from slips, trips and falls can range from physical injury to death.

Slips, trips and falls are the most expensive injuries as far as US workers Compensation costs.

This article will discuss the nature of  slip, trip and fall injuries.

Can Slips, Trips and Falls Be Workers Compensation Events?

Yes. Workers’ Compensation is a “no fault” system. Therefore, even if the worker was clumsy and slipped, tripped or fell and injured themselves, they are still able to receive workers’ compensation medical treatment and benefits.

What Are the Most Common Injuries as a Result?

Sprains, strains, dislocations and tears to the lower extremities are the most common injuries after a slip, trip or fall.  Bell JL, Collins JW, Chiou S. Effectiveness of a no-cost-to-workers, slip-resistant footwear program for reducing slipping-related injuries in food service workers: a cluster randomized trial. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2019 Mar 1;45(2):194-202. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3790. Epub 2018 Dec 6. PMID: 30519704.

Lower extremity injuries can include the hips, the legs, the knees, the ankles and the toes.

How Are There Fatalities from Falls?

Although falls from height are more likely to result in a fatality, falls on the same level occur more frequently and cause significant morbidity, with recent US Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that 50% of all same-level falls resulted in >10 days sick leave.  Bell JL, Collins JW, Chiou S. Effectiveness of a no-cost-to-workers, slip-resistant footwear program for reducing slipping-related injuries in food service workers: a cluster randomized trial. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2019 Mar 1;45(2):194-202. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3790. Epub 2018 Dec 6. PMID: 30519704.

Absent a Fatality from the Accident Itself, How Can A Fall Become a Fatality?

In certain circumstances, fall injuries can lead to compensable consequences.  They a fall make may someone sedentary and bedridden.  This sedentary state can cause the individual to develop a host of medical problems which may, in the end, result in a fatality.

For example, “hip fractures in the elderly is an important problem that can lead to death. Many studies reported the mortality rates of hip surgery after 1 year ranged from 12.7 to 29.2%. In …[one], the total mortality rate 1 year after injury was 16.6%, similar to those reported previously. arthroplasty.biomedcentral.com

What Is the Most Common Means of Injury?

“Slipping (foot slides out of place away from a person’s base of support) is the most common precursor to slip, trip and fall injuries in various diverse worker populations.”  Bell JL, Collins JW, Chiou S. Effectiveness of a no-cost-to-workers, slip-resistant footwear program for reducing slipping-related injuries in food service workers: a cluster randomized trial. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2019 Mar 1;45(2):194-202. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3790. Epub 2018 Dec 6. PMID: 30519704.

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.

A TACO BELL WORK INJURY TRAGEDY: INJURED WORKERS IN THE NEWS, #9

A Los Angeles Taco Bell Worker, and Father of 3, was tragically murdered while working.  He was shot dead after an argument with a customer over a fake $20.00 bill. The shot was fired from the customer drive-thru.  The Father worked there one day a week to make extra money for his family.  His son also was working in the restaurant when the shooting happened.  Foxnews.com, Dailymail.com

In this matter, there are multiple injury claims; a death claim concerning the Father, and  possible stress claims for each and every store worker who was present at the time of the shooting.  The employees include one of the Father’s son.

Are There Any Issues Concerning the Death Claim?

Yes. There are multiple issues concerning the Father’s death.   First, there would be a death claim which can be filed for all of his dependents.  He has three children and he may have a spouse.  Thus, there are multiple individuals who can seek death benefits.  Further, there would be burial expenses that would be available.  Second, there is an issue of his earnings.  From the story, he worked one day a week at Taco Bell.   It is possible that he had other employment.   If so, his rate of pay would be an issue as well.

In sum, while this tragic death is an undisputed work injury claim, there are complicated issues concerning who are the dependents and the compensation rate.

Are There Any Issues Concerning the Co-Workers?

Yes. If the co-workers sustained a mental health injury as a result of the incident, they would be able to pursue a claim.  The Son would be able to pursue both an injury claim for himself as well as a dependency claim relating to his Father’s passing.   His dependency, however, would be subject to an analysis based upon his age and the nature and extent of his dependency.

Are There Any Other Issues?

The family may seek benefits through the California Victim Compensation Board.

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.

Image Credit to: danielfela

A TRAGIC FLIGHT NURSE ACCIDENT: INJURED WORKERS IN THE NEWS, #8

It was recently reported that both Flight Nurses and Pilots died in a tragic jet plane crash in San Diego.  “[T]he twin-engine jet was registered to El Cajon-based Med Jet LLC.” kmph.com

The plane crash constitutes a work-related accident. Dependents of the deceased workers can seek compensation as well as obtain burial expenses to cover the funeral.  With the limited facts from the news reports, it appears that employment and jurisdiction issues may exist.

Who Are Flight Nurses?

Flight Nurses provide medical care during transportation of patients.  Flight Nurses can serve on fixed wing planes, jet planes and helicopters. Flight Nurses can operate out of a base location. From that location, they can travel throughout the world to provide this assistance.

For example, individuals having a medical event or accident on vacation may need to be transported home.

Is There A Particular Issue with Flight Nurses?

Yes.  Jurisdiction is an issue that may come up with Flight Nurses.  While they may be based in a particular state, work injuries can occur in other states.  Thus, a legal dispute may arise as to which state has jurisdiction to adjudicate the claim.  In some instances, multiple states may offer jurisdiction.  Jurisdiction is the legal term used for the “correct” location to file the action.

In the present matter, it is not clear whether the Flight Nurses lived in California.  If they did, a California workers’ compensation claim could be filed.  From the facts, they may be been employed by Med Jet LLC which operates in California.   Thus, this is also a basis for California jurisdiction.

Who Is the Employer?

While the plane was registered by Med Jet LLC, it is not clear from the news accounts that the company employed the nurses. A determination needs to be made as to who was their employer.

Are There Other Causes of Action?

In this matter, there may be a variety of causes of action.  If the nurses did not work for Med Jet LLC, there might be a cause of action against the plane’s owner.  Further, if the pilots were not co-workers, a cause of action may be applied against them.  Likewise, there might be a product’s liability claim against the plane’s manufacturer.

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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