WAS WORKER TRAGICALLY COOKED A WORK-RELATED EVENT? INJURED WORKER IN THE NEWS, #63

A horrible incident happened at a Food Processing Company. A Processing Worker was found dead inside a kettle cooker.   The police investigation found nothing suspicious.   An ongoing investigation with OSHA is continuing.  The Deceased Worker leaves behind a wife and two daughters. dailymail.co

This article will discuss as to whether, given the facts, this injury would be considered work-related for the purposes of workers’ compensation benefits.  If found work-related, the Deceased’s spouse and daughters may be eligible for benefits.  Further, he would be entitled to burial expenses.   From the facts,  however, it is unclear as to how he ended up on the kettle.  Based upon the current investigations there is no explanation.

If There Was No Explanation As To How The Injured Worker Died, Would It Be Considered An Industrial Death?

In California, there is the doctrine of mysterious death. In the event of a mysterious death, the accident will be considered as work-related. As a result, the Deceased Dependents could claim benefits.  As per case law, it is noted in County of Contra Costa County vs. WCAB 67 C.C.C. 1614,  (writ denied), “In addition to the medical evidence supporting a finding of injury on its own, the facts of this case are those of an unexplained death, in that it is not known what decedent was doing while working when the injury which caused his death occurred. Defendant is in agreement with applicant’s position that it is unknown what decedent was doing at the time the aortal dissection occurred. The situation is similar to the facts in Clemmens v. Workers’ Comp. App. Bd. (1968) 261 Cal. App. 2d 1 [68 Cal. Rptr. 804] [33 Cal. Comp. Cases 186], wherein it was determined that in a case where an employee is found dead in the course of his employment in the absence of any evidence of what… caused the death, the employee is entitled to “a presumption or inference that the death arose out of the employment, since it is undisputed that this employment brought him to the place where his occurred.” Clemmens, supra 33 Cal. Comp. Cases at page 189. In the instant case, the death was caused by a dissection of the aorta, which occurred while applicant was at work. Accordingly, this creates a presumption or inference that decedent’s death  [**8] arose out of his employment.”

In the existing facts, it is likely that this claim would be found as work-related.

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.

IWITN #45: A Tragic Shooting Death & Injury Of Subway Employees

It is reported that one Subway Sandwich Artist was tragically murdered and that another was shot at an Atlanta Subway Sandwich Store.   A customer,  upset over too much mayo being placed upon a sandwich,  reportedly became violent and fired shots.  The tragedy is made worse as the son of the deceased worker was present. Dailymail.com

The focus of this post will be with respect to the child who was present and their rights.  This will discuss the matter in light of California Law.

Can The Child File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Yes.  If the child’s mother was a worker and passed, it is likely that a dependency death claim can be pursued.   This would be based upon the child’s age and whether their mother provided support.

Are There Any Other Benefits That The Child Could Obtain?

Yes. In the State of California, there is a Victim’s Crime Board (CalVCB) that can provide assistance.  In order to qualify, a person “must be a victim of a qualifying crime involving physical injury, the threat of physical injury or death to qualify for compensation. For certain crimes, emotional injury alone is all that needs to be sustained. Certain family members or other loved ones may also qualify.”  There are certain criteria that must be met as well.

One benefit that can be provided is mental health services.   CalVCB can provide assistance in getting “An eligible victim may receive up to three mental health counseling sessions. Providers are required to complete a treatment plan and submit it to CalVCB before the client’s fourth session to obtain additional sessions.

There may be other benefits available.  The Victim’s Crime Board website has the information.

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.

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.

SECURITY GUARD TRAGICALLY MURDERED IN OAKLAND: INJURED WORKERS IN THE NEWS #3:

A brazen attempted robbery of news camera equipment led to a Security Guard’s murder.  While working for Star Protective Agency, the Guard was assigned to an on location KRON news team. While doing so, he was shot in the abdomen and died.  It is reported that he was married, has two children, and has three grandchildren.

This industrial death has issues concerning  (a) who is entitled to and (b) the nature and extent of workers’ compensation dependency benefit.

Which Company is Responsible for The Security Guard’s Workers Compensation Claim?

Workers’ Compensation claims are to be filed against one’s employer.  Often, employees, while working for one company, are performing services at another.   In this instance, while the Security Guard was working with the KRON news team, his actual employer was the Star Protective Agency. The claim will be filed against Star.

What Type of Workers’ Compensation Claim is To Be Filed?

Besides the injury claim, a Death Dependency Claim is indicated.   According to the reports, the Security Guard had a wife, children and grandchildren. Thus, prior to his demise, he may have financially supported a number of people.  Therefore, a factual analysis is necessary to determine the nature and extent of each dependency.

Are There Different Types of Dependents?

Yes.  In California Workers’ Compensation Law, there are two types of dependents: total and partial.  Total dependents are entitled a greater amount compensation than partial dependents.

What Is the Difference Between a Total and Partial Dependent?

The difference between total and partial dependents is the nature of the support that they received from the deceased worker.  Beyond the actual support, legal presumptions can provide the assignment of total dependency.  Spouses with certain levels of earnings as well as children under the age of 18 are afforded total dependency.

Other claimed individuals are required to prove their dependency by showing the support they received from the deceased.   Likewise, a claimed dependent’s income will be considered in the calculation.  For example, a child living free at home may also have a job.

What Is to Be Learned From This Tragic Story?

A simple undisputed work injury can lead to a complex analysis in order to pay out compensation.

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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