motorcycles cops in a parade

Was a Police Officer’s Motorcycle Fatality a Work-Related Injury? Injured Workers in the News, #94

A California Motorcycle Officer suffered a fatality in a highway crash.  The Manhattan Police Officer, who was recognized as a hero from the Las Vegas mass shooting,  was reportedly going to work when the accident happened.  This fact pattern raises the question as to whether someone injured while driving to work can claim a work injury and receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Per the Associated Press, it is reported that the Manhattan Beach Police Officer was likely heading to work when the collision happened shortly after 5 a.m. on Interstate 405 in Carson,

This article will discusses how this type of accident can be considered as an industrial event.

Can A Worker File A Workers’ Compensation Claim If They Got Hurt On Their Way To Or From Work?

While California Workers’ Compensation Law precludes recovery from injuries sustained during commutes, there are exceptions to the rule. Therefore, in these matters, a complete factual analysis is required.  Further, these cases are likely to be litigated.

The following is a discussion of the “going and coming” rule.  Per case law, “[t]the going and coming precludes [recovery under the Workers’ Compensation Act] for injury suffered during the course of a local commute to a fixed place of business at fixed hours in the absence of exceptional circumstances. (Hinojosa v. Workmen’s Comp. Appeals Bd. (1972) 8 Cal. 3d 150, 157 [37 Cal. Comp. Cases 734, 104 Cal. Rptr. 456, 501 P.2d 1176].) [] For purposes of the rule, the employment relationship does not begin until an employee enters the employer’s premises. Prior to entry the going and coming rule ordinarily precludes recovery after entry, injury is generally presumed compensable as arising in the course of employment. (Pacific Indem. Co. v. Industrial Acc. Com. (1946) 28 Cal. 2d 329, 336 [11 Cal. Comp. Cases 148, 170 P.2d 18] Cal. Cas. Ind. Exch. v. Ind. Acc. Com. (1943) 21 Cal. 2d 751, 755 [8 Cal. Comp. Cases 55, 135 P.2d 158]1 Larson, Workmen’s Compensation Law (1972) §§ 15.00–15.11, pp. 4–2—4–4.)” (General Ins. Co. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (1976) 16 Cal. 3d 595, 598 [41 Cal. Comp. Cases 162, 128 Cal. Rptr 417, 546 P.2d 1361].) The going and coming rule, however, is riddled with exceptions. (Hinojosa v. Workmen’s Comp. Appeals Bd. (1972) 8 Cal. 3d 150, 156 [37 Cal. Comp. Cases 734, 104 Cal. Rptr. 456, 501, P.2d 1176] Bramall v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (1978) 78 Cal. App. 3d 151, 156 [43 Cal. Comp. Cases 288, 143 Cal. Rptr. 105].)

One such exception to the going and coming rule is the “special mission” exception. Under this exception, “An injury suffered by an employee during his regular commute is compensable if he was also performing a special mission for his employer. (2 Hanna, [Cal. Law of Employee Injuries and Workmen’s Compensation (2d ed.)], § 9.03[3][iv], pp. 9–41—9–43.) The employee’s conduct is ‘special’ if it is ‘extraordinary in relation to routine duties, not outside the scope of employment.’ (Schreifer v. Industrial Acc. Com. (1964) 61 Cal. 2d 289, 295  [29 Cal. Comp. Cases 103, 38 Cal. Rptr. 352, 391 P.2d 832].) The special mission rule ‘is ordinarily held inapplicable when the only special component is the fact the employee began work earlier or quit work later than usual.’ (1 Larson, [Workmen’s Compensation Law], § 16.12, p. 4–98.)” (General Ins. Co. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd., supra, 16 Cal. 3d at p. 601.)

Another well recognized exception to the going and coming rule is the “special risk” exception. “If, prior  to entry upon the [employer’s] premises, an employee suffers injury from a special risk causally related to employment, the injury is compensable under the ‘special risk’ exception to the going and coming rule. ‘The facts that an accident happens upon a public road and that the danger is one to which the general public is likewise exposed, however, do not preclude the existence of a causal relationship between the accident and the employment if the danger is one to which the employee, by reason of and in connection with his employment, is subjected pecul[iar]ly or to an abnormal degree.’ (Freire v. Matson Navigation Co. (1941) 19 Cal. 2d 8, 12 [6 Cal. Comp. Cases 302 118 P.2d 809]1 Larson, supra, § 9.30, pp. 3–48—3–50).” (General Ins. Co. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd., supra, 16 Cal. 3d at p. 600.)”  Baroid vs. WCAB (1981) 46 C.C.C. 790.

With Respect to the “Going and Coming Rule”, Is The Analysis Different for Police Officers?

Yes. There is the case of Garzoli which addressed the extraordinary nature that can be involved in law enforcement.

The Supreme Court in  Garzoli vs. WCAB 35 Cal. Comp. Cases 193, dealt with case involving the following facts: “On June 6, 1968, he began his regular shift at 4 p.m. and “checked out” with the lieutenant or watch manager at midnight. He started home on his own motorcycle (which he did not use in his work), wearing his police uniform and carrying his pistol. A few minutes later, his motorcycle was struck by a negligently driven automobile, and he sustained severe injuries, which caused his death July 4, 1968.”  Further “There was evidence that …[the Officer]… was on call 24 hours a day; that he had been called many times to report for duty at a time other than his regular shift (such as when a riot was antipicated, or the lieutenant or watch manager had to be away, or for marksmanship practice); that the police department’s “Manual of Policies and Procedure” did not deal with the matter of a police officer’s norma going and coming between his home and the police station; and that although the manual provided that police officers were prohibited from engaging in law enforcement activities while off duty within the city except in cases or extreme emergency or when it appeared that someone’s life was in danger, such policy was not followed by the department, and off-duty officers were expected to render assistance in less serious situations.

In the latter respect, the chief of the police department testified: “If somebody was in need of help, and in a small community of our size where a policeman is known by just about every individual, and he refused to help—well, what would happen to him and what would happen to the police department as a whole? So as a consequence if somebody needed help, and irregardless of whether he had a weapon or not, I would censor [sic] them if they did not help these people.”  The chief further testified that there was no adequate place for a police officer to change from street clothes into his uniform, or vice versa, at the police station and that it was with his consent that an officer might wear his uniform and carry his pistol in going and coming between his home and the police station.”  There was additional information that was presented at trial that “the lieutenant or watch manager with whom the decedent had “checked out” at midnight when he left the station testified that it was with his knowledge and consent that the decedent wore his uniform, carried his pistol, and rode his motorcycle in going and coming between his home and the police station. He also testified that he had worked the same shift as the decedent that night; that he came upon the scene of the accident shortly after it occurred; and that he immediately “in [his] official capacity . . . administered first aid and questioned the persons standing there,” assisting fellow officers in apprehending the driver of the automobile involved in the accident (hit and run), and made an official report as an investigating officer.”  Further at trial, “there was also evidence that the decedent lived about a mile and a quarter or a mile and a half from the police station; that there was no public transportation available to him; that the only way he could go to work was to walk, drive his own vehicle, or hire a taxi; and that the city did not pay him any mileage.

In this case, the Supreme Court noted that “In the present case, the city did not require that the decedent furnish a vehicle of transportation on the job. From the testimony of the police chief, however, it is clear that, as a practical matter, the decedent was required to wear his official uniform to and from work and that, at least when so clothed, carrying his pistol, and traveling conspicuously in the public streets on a motorcycle on his way home immediately after completing his shift, he was expected  to render assistance to members of the public in the field of law enforcement, if needed.

Accordingly, it is a reasonable extension of the exception laid down in Smith to hold that under the circumstances here shown, the decedent was engaged “in conduct reasonably directed toward the fulfillment of his employer’s requirements, performed for the benefit and advantage of the employer,” as a result of which the going and coming exclusion is inapplicable.”” [emphasis added]

In sum, with respect to the recently deceased officer, his facts will be analyzed against the facts of the Garzoli case as well as the legal theories employed to create the exception to the going and coming rule.   From the news accounts, there seemed to be some question as to whether he in fact on his way to work.  This is a significant issue that requires clarification.    Likewise, there will be an investigation as to the necessity of wearing a uniform and weapon when driving a police motorcycle.  Further, there will be an investigation as to whether there was an expectation that this Officer was expected to render assistance to members of the public.  All of these factors, and others, will bring weight into the analysis.

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.


work injury word cloud


A Hospital Worker tragically died.   Law enforcement considers the death to be a homicide.  The alleged cause for the homicide was a kick in the groin.   Do the facts give rise to legitimate workers’ compensation  work-related death claim?

It is reported as follows:  a Hospital Worker had an altercation with a patient.   A mental health evaluation patient was trying to leave the hospital when the staff tried to prevent her from leaving.  The incident got physical.   The patient began to “swing her arms and pull away from security when (an employee) attempted to grab her arms. The Mental Health Unit eventually had to step in.” The patient allegedly started to kick and then struck a Hospital Worker with her knee in the groin.  The Hospital Worker, after the injury, was in the ICU for three days. Tragically, he died.

The article reporting on the matter indicated that “[a]uthorities say after a review of medical records and investigation, the cause of death is physiological stress associated with a physical altercation in the setting of cardiomegaly and obesity.”

The coroner commented that “[t]here’s a lot of people walking around with the same medical conditions he had, that might live for another 15-20 or 25 years, had it not been for the kick to the groin.”

This article will discuss the hurdles required to prove a death claim in this matter.  This article will discuss issues of causation and medical legal reporting.

Is The Coroner’s Opinion Enough to Prove the Death Is Work-Related?

The answer is “no.”  In California, Workers’ Compensation Law has standards of causation.  The doctors must express their opinion within the workers’ compensation framework.  With respect to a death claim, the medical evaluator should express their opinion within reasonable medical probability.  Further, with respect to a death case, the issue is whether the industrial injury was a “contributing” cause.  The South Coast Framing case  established the “contributing cause” standard for death cases.  (South Coast Framing, Inc. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (2015) 61 Cal.4th 291 [188 Cal.Rptr.3d 46, 349 P.3d 141].)  As we don’t know whether the Coroner’s opinion was within reasonable medical probability or whether it addressed causation as a contributing cause, on it’s face, it could not be used as evidence.

Thus, a medical opinion must have the correct language.   It should also be noted that criminal law has a different burden of proof.  Therefore, clarification is needed within a workers’ compensation framework.  It is possible that what might not be considered criminal causation can still be valid for the purposes of industrial causation.

What Medical Evidence  Is Needed To Proof the Death Was Work-Related?

In this matter, either the treating physician or a medical evaluator, QME or AME,  should be employed to render an opinion on industrial causation of the death.   The question would be whether the attack “contributed” to the injured worker’s death.  The worker’s involvement, i.e. physical activities, in the altercation can be viewed as a whole as opposed to the mere kick.  In other words, the stress, mental or physical, from the incident can be considered with respect to industrial causation for the death.  As noted, workers’ compensation should look at the totality of the incident and not the mere kick to the groin to make the assessment.

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.


Fast Food Workers are being subjected to unprecedented dangers.  Minor disputes with Customers,  such as over condiments, have led to both injury and tragedy.  A recent assault of Fast Food Workers in New York is both disturbing and unique.

Fancy French Fry Establishment Workers were assaulted by a trio of unruly customers upset over the $1.75 extra sauce charge.  Objects were thrown,  a crowd of spectators watched and did nothing, and the incident was, in a large part, captured on video.    It is reported that “[t]he women went ballistic, tearing down the plexiglass COVID guard along the counter, ripping out the cash register and hurling glass bottles and stools at the employees.”

The incident was so high profile that the worker were interviewed.  One reported bleeding from their scalp.  Another reported an aggravation of their blood pressure condition.  A number of them reported being fearful and hesitant about returning to work.

Is The Video Sufficient to Win a Workers’ Compensation Case?

No. The video is not sufficient to win these workers’ cases.  The video, however, is powerful evidence as to what happened.  Workers’ Compensation claims require medical reporting to support claims and entitlement to benefits.  Given the facts, the injuries from the incident include a head trauma, an aggravation of hypertension, and psychological complaints.

Can An Aggravation of Blood Pressure Be Claimed As A Work Injury?

Yes. An aggravation or acceleration of a pre-existing condition can constitute a work related injury in California.  A medical specialist, either a treating doctor or an evaluator, will be required to offer an opinion.

Are The Injured Workers’ Feelings and Actions Sufficient For Them To Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

No.  In the facts, some of the workers remained at home as a result of the injury.  In order for them to get workers’ compensation benefits for missing time from work, they need to be placed off work by a medical professional.  Workers who need to be off of work need to seek medical attention and have their providers determine their ability to work. A worker’s personal opinion is not sufficient.

Is There a Threshold To Prove A Psychiatric Injury In These Matters?

For each individual worker, they all must meet the threshold to prove a psychiatric injury.   In this matter, is it possible that the Labor Code Section 3208.3 provision concerning violent acts may apply.  The section indicates, “in the case of employees whose injuries resulted from being a victim of a violent act or from direct exposure to a significant violent act, the employee shall be required to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that actual events of employment were a substantial cause of the injury.”  In this matter, if the parties cannot agree that the incident was a violent act, then it would be the Workers’ Compensation Judge to make that determination.

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.


Headlines reported that Encino Hospital Workers were attacked a stabbed by an Attacker.  These workers were reportedly in critical condition.

This article will discuss the immediate concern on this matter.

What Is the Major Concern with This Incident? 

Given the facts and the assumption that the same knife was used in the attack each victim, it is likely that the workers may have been exposed to each others blood.   Thus, a long term issue is the concern with respect to this injury is whether the workers were exposed to a  Blood Borne Illness.  Blood Borne Illnesses include Malaria, Syphilis, and Brucellosis, and Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).  As such, treatment and monitoring for these illnesses would be part of the work injury protocol.  Thus, besides treating the Injured Workers  wounds and likely psychological injuries, an additional Internal Medicine Program will be included to provide prophylaxis treatment as well as testing and monitoring for blood borne pathogens.

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.


In California, in part due to failed social policies, Retail Store Employees have been placed at risk as a result of an epidemic of “smash and grab” robberies.  As these “smash and grab” robberies have increased,  the odds are increasing for more confrontations between Employees and Criminals. More recent robberies have included violent acts.

At the San Jose Macy’s, it is reported that at least six male suspects entered the mall-based store.  The Macy’s Loss Prevention Team approached the suspects and tried to stop the robbery. In this encounter, it is reported one of the Employees sustained minor to moderate injuries.

This article will discuss the rights of this Injured Employee.

Can This Employee File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Yes.  The Employee may file a workers’ compensation  claim for her work injuries. This worker may have sustained both physical and mental injuries. Also, in this circumstance, the insurance company could possibly raise the defense of “initial aggressor” if the employee initiated the physical altercation,  i.e. threw the first punch.  A Trial Judge would make such a determination.

What Is The Difference Between A Physical Versus A Mental Injury?

Physical versus Mental injury is a distinction within workers’ compensation.  Physical Injury causation standards are different from Mental Injury standards.  Thus, it is possible that an Injured Worker can have a compensable Physical Injury claim but have a non-compensable Mental Injury claim.  Physical Injuries can be orthopedic in nature, ie. back or neck, and they can be internal medicine in nature, ie. heart attack.  Mental Injuries are Psychiatric Injuries, ie. Depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

What Other Claims Can This Individual Have?

Assuming this worker was assaulted by the robbers, the Worker could pursue a personal injury claim against the assailants  Also, they could file a claim with the Victims of Crime Board.  Finally, they could pursue their workers’ compensation 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.



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