IWITN #44: Did Tossed Food At A Wendy’s Employee Cause A Work Injury?

Had  a Wendy’s Frosty been involved, things could have been worse.  It is reported that  a Wendy’s Drive Thru Worker was  assaulted by nuggets, fries, and a drink.

An unhappy customer  contended that the bag the food came with a guarantee of hot and crispy food.  She felt her order did not meet that standard.  It is reported that “[s]he said that she got spicy nuggets instead of normal ones, saying they were burnt.” After profanity and outrage, it is reported she threw the bag of food at the worker.  Fox10phoenix.com

Was There a Work Injury?

From the facts, it does not appear that a physical injury was sustained. A physical injury is a term used to describe orthopedic injuries or wounds.   For example, if a glass bottle had been thrown and caused wounds, that would be considered as a physical injury.  In this instance, the injury would be considered as a mental injury. From the facts, it is possible that the worker may have sustained a psyche injury.  The news report indicated that the Worker was harassed, threatened, cursed at and had items thrown at her by an angry customer who overreacted. Such an injury would require the opinion of a mental health practitioner finding a psychiatric injury.  A finding would require a diagnosis such as PTSD, Anxiety Disorder or Depression.

If The Worker Had Gotten The Food Order Wrong Which Triggered The Incident, Would That Effect the Validity of the Work Injury Claim?

In this instance, no.  Workers’ Compensation is a “no fault” system.  In this instance, even if the employee got food order was wrong, the resultant incident would still be covered within workers’ compensation. Labor Code Section 3600, lays out that “(a) Liability for the compensation provided by this division, in lieu of any other liability …shall, without regard to negligence.”

While workers’ compensation is no fault, good faith personnel actions may bar a psychiatric claim.  Had there been no incident with the customer, a Worker being written up for improperly filling an order most likely would be considered a “good faith” personnel action.

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.

SCHOOL BUS DRIVER’S ACCIDENT YIELDS MULTIPLE WORK-RELATED INJURIES: INJURED WORKER IN THE NEWS, #36  

A horrific multi-vehicle crash occurred involving both a school bus and a dump truck. Many students were injured.    It is reported that the police investigated that matter and that it is likely that no charges that would be filed for negligent operation of a  vehicle.  It is reported that both the dump truck driver and the school bus driver were trapped in their vehicles for an extended period of time and that one of them required medical treatment.  There was no information in the article as to which driver, if any, was at fault.  Dailymail.com

This article will address whether fault would matter in this case with respect to workers’ compensation.

Can Either Driver Pursue a Workers’ Compensation Claim in This Circumstance?

Under California Law, both drivers would be able to pursue a work injury claim.  Workers’ Compensation is a “no fault” system for which the negligent operation of a vehicle causing an injury would not bar a claim.  Thus, if one of the operators had missed a stop sign and that caused the accident, if would not bar the claim.  In this instance, either operator could file a claim.  Labor Code Section 3600 provides “(a) [l]iability for the compensation provided by this division, in lieu of any other liability whatsover….shall, without regard to negligence, exist against an employer for any injury sustained by his or her employees arising out of and in the course and scope of employment.”

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 DOLPHIN ATTACKS TRAINER: INJURED WORKER IN THE NEWS, #30

In a Miami Aquarium, a Dolphin, “Sundance,” attacked his trainer.  It was reported that the dolphin repeatedly struck the trainer and tried to pull  the trainer down into the water.  Apparently, the altercation may have been caused when the trainer had accidentally scratched the dolphin.  After the attack, the visibly shaken trainer was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. www.local10.com

This article will discuss the legal issues of this incident within the California Workers’ Compensation System.

If the Trainer Accidentally Scratched the Dolphin and This Caused the Dolphin to Attack Him, Does This Bar The Trainer From Pursuing A Workers’ Compensation Claim?  

No.  Workers’ Compensation is a “no fault” system.  Thus, an employee’s accidental contact causing an injury would not be a bar.

Does Applicant’s Animal Trainer Position Impact Their Compensation?

Yes.  Permanent Disability assessment includes an injured worker’s employment class.  This is called an Occupational Group Code.  A job’s physical arduousness can increase the permanent disability.  Per the Rating Manual, an Animal Trainer’s group number is 390.  Since Animal Trainer’s job can be quite physical, there is a likelihood that they will received a higher rating for certain body parts versus an injured worker with a less arduous job. For example, a secretary’s occupational adjustment would not be as good as an Animal Trainer.

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.

CAN A POLICE OFFICER CLAIM INJURY WHEN HE WAS BITTEN BY HIS PARTNER? INJURED WORKER IN THE NEWS, #26

In Florida, a Police Officer sustained a work-related injury when was bitten a fellow Police Officer. His K9 partner may have tried to take a bite out of crime but instead bit his partner’s arm.  It is reported that the dog became agitated during an attempted arrest.  The dog bit his handler. Dailymail.com 

This fact pattern raises the questions as to whether an Employee can file a workers’ compensation claim when they get injured as a result of a co-worker’s mistake.   The fact pattern raises a treatment issue. Dog bites present unique issues.

Can an Injured Worker File a Claim If They Are Injured By A Co-Worker?

Yes.  Generally, workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system   This applies to the actions of co-workers.  Thus, the dog bite by his K-9 Partner is a valid workers’ compensation claim.

What Type Of Treatment Can Be Provided? 

In the instance of a dog bite, there is a concern whether the dog may have had rabies.  Thus, the Police Officer may be put on rabies treatment protocol. Likewise, treatment may be necessary to prevent infection.

Labor Code Section 4600 provides that “(a) medical, surgical, chiropractic, acupuncture, and hospital treatment, including nursing, medicines, medical and surgical supplies, crutches, and apparatuses, including orthotic and prosthetic devices and services, that is reasonably required to cure or relieve the injured worker from the effects of the worker’s injury shall be provided by the employer. In the case of the employer’s neglect or refusal reasonably to do so, the employer is liable for the reasonable expense incurred by or on behalf of the employee in providing treatment. (b) As used in this division and notwithstanding any other law, medical treatment that is reasonably required to cure or relieve the injured worker from the effects of the worker’s injury means treatment that is based upon the guidelines adopted by the administrative director pursuant to Section 5307.27.”

Thus, the medical providers treating these type of bite injuries, within the guidelines, will provide treatment to prevent infection on this matter.

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.

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.

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