WAS AN AMAZON EMPLOYEE FATALITY AN INDUSTRIAL EVENT? INJURED WORKERS IN THE NEWS #2

An Amazon Worker in New York City was fatally struck.  It was reported that they were hit by an unlicensed driver who was a co-worker.  At the time of the accident, the 24 year-old Amazon Worker was crossing a street at 11:30pm outside of the the Amazon Fulfillment Center.  The worker was brought to the hospital but did not survive. nypost.com 

Workers’ Compensation requires that an accident, to be compensable, be one that “arises out of and is in the course and scope of employment.”  Benefits will only be paid if it is legally recognized as industrial.  The tragic story from New York illustrates an instance where the injury is not disputed.  The Worker’s activity, at the time of the injury, however is questionable as to whether it should be considered as work-related.

Was This a Work-Related Event?

The answer is maybe. An in depth factual analysis is necessary.

Was the  Amazon Worker leaving work for the day?

Was the Amazon Worker going on break?

Was the Amazon Worker on the clock?

Where was the Amazon Worker going?

Was the street being crossed dangerous?

Was the street considered part of the facility?

For the purposes of this question, the following facts will be assumed:  the worker had finished work and was exiting to obtain transportation home.   With these facts, the one issue of import was the time of day she was crossing the street.  Likewise, the nature of the street is of import.

While “going and coming” from work can bar a workers’ compensation claim, there are exceptions to the rule.  one exception is the “zone of danger” or the “field of risk” rule.  thus,  if a worker’s travel puts them in a “zone of danger” or “field of risk” to get to or leave the employer’s facility, the claim may be considered as industrial.

In this matter, there may be compelling facts to find the injury industrial.  Crossing a street at a late hour when it was dark may provide solid evidence to lead a trier of fact to find that the “zone of danger” or “field of risk” exception applies.

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.

 

WCITN #14: A Unique Film Production Injury

The Rust Film Production’s fatality was not the only work injury of interest. Another worker sustained a work injury when they were bitten by a venomous brown recluse spider. This occurred when the production was shutting down.  The spider’s bite contained poison.  As a result, the crew member has been hospitalized and may require the amputation of an arm. The injury occurred “on location.”

It is reported that “a lamp operator and pipe rigger, was working to wind down production of the film after cinematographer … was fatally shot…, when he was bitten by a brown recluse spider – a venomous spider that is native to North America.”  It was reported he “started experiencing severe symptoms, including necrosis of his arm, which occurs when cells die, and sepsis.” Dailymail.com

There are several unique issues with regard this work injury:

Where Should the Workers’ Compensation Claim Be Filed?

The location of where a work injury is to be filed is generally referred to as the venue.  Workers’ Compensation for private employers is generally a state issue.  Thus, when there is a “on location” injury, the question arises as to which state would be the proper venue.  This is an issue which is heavily factual.  Where the employee lives, where the contract was made, where the employer is located, and where the injury happened as are relevant.  A careful legal analysis must be done to determine venue.  There are times when multiple states may serve as a proper venue.

Who Pays the Medical Bills?

In the news reports, there was concern about the  Injured Worker’s medical bills.  In California Workers’ Compensation Law, the Employer is 100 percent liable for paying medical bills that are generated in accordance with the Labor Code.  Thus, it is important that the claim be made.

Is There Anything Special Concerning the Nature of the Injury?

Yes.  If an amputation is required in the matter, the Injured Worker’s period of temporary disability payments would be extended from 104 weeks to 240 week which must be within the period 5 years from the date of injury.

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.

QUALIFIED MEDICAL EXAMINERS’ ETHICAL REQUIREMENTS:  INJURED WORKERS, EVALUATIONS AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Injured Workers have certain rights with respect to attending Qualified Medical Evaluations.   Further, Qualified Medical Evaluators have obligations towards the Injured Workers.

There are rules and regulations for Qualified Medical Evaluators.   Knowledge of these rules can assist Injured Workers with respect to their evaluation.  This discussion relates only to the actual appointment and not the QME’s reporting.

Section 41 Ethical requirements lays out QME evaluation expectations.

How Am I To Be Treated?

All Injured Workers, regardless of being representing, are to be treated by QMEs in the same matter.

What Should QME Offices Look Like?

The QME offices are to be clean, professional physician’s offices.

They should contain functioning medical instruments and equipment appropriate to conducting the evaluation within the physician’s scope of practice.

They should have a functioning business office phone with the phone number listed with the Medical Director for that location which a party may use to schedule an examination or to handle other matters related to a comprehensive medical/legal evaluation.

How Should You Be Treated?

The QME should not request you to submit to an unnecessary exam or procedure.   They should refrain from treating or soliciting to provide medical treatment, medical supplies or medical devices to you.

The QME should communicate to you in a respectful, courteous and professional manner.

Can QMEs Reschedule Appointments?

QMEs are to refrain from Refrain from unilaterally rescheduling a panel QME examination more than two times in the same case.

QMEs are to refrain from unilaterally rescheduling a panel QME examination more than two times in the same case. Refrain from cancelling a QME examination less than six (6) business days from the date the exam is scheduled without good cause and without providing a new examination date within thirty (30) calendar days of the date of cancellation.

What If There Is a Violation?

An Injured Worker could consider filing a complaint with the Department of Industrial Relations.

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.

HEALTHCARE WORKERS, VIOLENT PATIENTS AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Healthcare Systems have a high incidence of workplace violence.   Healthcare Workers experience five times the amount of violence in comparison to the average worker in the United States.

Violent acts can cause work injuries both of a physical and mental nature.  Healthcare Workers, in these circumstances, may seek medical treatment and compensation via Workers’ Compensation.

This article will discuss the nature of the term “violence”, a worker’ compensation law addressing violent acts, the nature of violent encounters, and the rates of violence.

What Is Violence?

Violence can mean different things. There is physical violence, i.e. a patient striking a nurse,  and there is verbal violence, i.e. a patient threatening a nurse’s life.

Research has a more expansive definition. ” In the most basic of explanations, violence may present in the form of verbal threats, aggressive language, or escalate to physical assault.”

Verbal harassment includes racial slurs, attacking appearance or perceived sexual orientation, cursing, yelling at, or berating another person.”

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, insulting gestures, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

Verbal threats include statements of intent to cause harm, and threatening body language or gestures.”

Physical violence includes spitting, biting, pulling hair, and any other type of unwanted physical contact intending to cause harm.” Pitts E, Schaller DJ. Violent Patients. 2021 Jul 12. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–. PMID: 30725966.

Comment:  The definition of violence used by researchers is quite expansive nature. .Hharassment  such attacks on  race, gender or sexual orientation have been included.

How Does Workers’ Compensation Laws Address Violence?

California Workers’ Compensation Law addresses both the physical and verbal aspects of violence.  Workers’ compensation claims can be filed for injuries that are physical in nature.  Thus, if a nurse was assaulted and hurt their back, they can get treatment and compensation for the claim.  Further, a nurse was subjected to racial harassment, they would be able to pursue a psychological or stress injury.  Sometimes, violence can lead to both physical and mental injuries.  A claim can include both types of injuries.

Are There Any Special Laws Concerning Violent Acts?

Yes. The threshold for psychiatric claims of injury is lowered if there is a claim of violence.  Labor Code Section 3208.3 provides that “ 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.” Substantial is defined as 35 to 40 percent.

How Significant Is It Within the Health Care Industry?

“In 2016, health care workers made up 69% of all reported workplace violent injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.” Pitts E, Schaller DJ. Violent Patients. 2021 Jul 12. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–. PMID: 30725966.

In sum, an overwhelming amount of workplace violence occurs within the healthcare profession.

Are There Different Violence Rates Among Occupation?

Yes. Violence rates can vary based upon occupation and sex.

Paramedics

They are subject to the highest amount of verbal violence

Nurses/Physicians

They are subject to the highest amount of verbal threats

Nurses

They have the highest rate of violence threats by visitors.

Female Nurses

They are at far greater risk of being a victim of violence versus their counterpart.

Pitts E, Schaller DJ. Violent Patients. 2021 Jul 12. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–. PMID: 30725966.

Who Commits the Violence in Healthcare Settings? 

Males, 35 years and younger, have been found to be the highest offenders of violence against healthcare professionals.” Pitts E, Schaller DJ. Violent Patients. 2021 Jul 12. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–. PMID: 30725966.

It has been found that 9 factors can be indicators of violence at the time of admissions. These include a “diagnosis of psychosis or bipolar disorder, history of psychiatric disorder, male gender, age younger than 35 years, below-average intelligence, no history of employment, homelessness, and agitated behavior.” .” Pitts E, Schaller DJ. Violent Patients. 2021 Jul 12. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–. PMID: 30725966.

What Are the Causes of Violence in the Health Care?

The Healthcare system, but its very nature, has elements that can contribute to violence.  These include “[[l]ong waiting times, lack of security, lack of adequate staff, and patient areas being open to the public.” .” Pitts E, Schaller DJ. Violent Patients. 2021 Jul 12. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–. PMID: 30725966.

Are There Other Factors that Can Impact Violence in Health Care?

“There are many factors thought to increase the risk of violence among ED workers, including an increased number of patients and visitors using alcohol and drugs, psychiatric disorders, dementia, the presence of weapons, stressful environment, overcrowding, prolonged waiting times, and flow of violence from the community into the ED.” Pitts E, Schaller DJ. Violent Patients. 2021 Jul 12. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–. PMID: 30725966.

Is There Anything Special About Emergency Departments?

Emergency Departments have a number of factors that can contribute to violence they can include “an increased number of patients and visitors using alcohol and drugs, psychiatric disorders, dementia, the presence of weapons, stressful environment, overcrowding, prolonged waiting times, and flow of violence from the community into the ED.” Pitts E, Schaller DJ. Violent Patients. 2021 Jul 12. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–. PMID: 30725966.

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 over 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

What You Need To Know About Amputations & Workers’ Compensation

Amputations can be a life-changing event for a Worker.  Workers may lose their ability to perform their job as well as perform activities of daily living.

The Workers’ Compensation Community is concerned about amputation cases as they involve extensive medical costs and missed time from work.

This article will discuss amputations, special laws concerning amputations, and interesting data derived from a recent study.

What Is an Amputation?

The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board defined amputation.  In Cruz vs. Mercedes Benz, 72 C.C.C. 1281 (Panel Decision), the WCAB indicated “ Defining amputation as the severance or removal of a limb, part of a limb, or other body appendage comports with the ordinary meaning, and includes the range of potentially compensable scenarios, including both traumatic loss of a body part in an industrial injury and surgical removal during treatment. This definition conforms to our understanding of the common meaning of the term “amputation,” which encompasses external projecting body parts, not internal parts, even if they include bone. It is also consistent with the definitions in the International Dictionary of Medicine and Biology, Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, and Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. To the extent that some definitions refer to organs, appear to encompass all body parts, or include an equivocal “etc.,” we reject them or interpret them in a manner consistent with our understanding of the term “amputation.”

Thus, surgery on a lumbar disc was found not to constitute an amputation.

Why Is an Amputation Important in California Workers’ Compensation?

An amputation in a workers’ compensation case triggers entitlement to additional periods of total temporary disability. 240 weeks is allowed in the case of amputations. Labor Code Section 4656.  In these cases, there is no requirement that the temporary disability period be connected to the amputation. Jon Van Ness, Applicant v. Barbara Herzstein, 2007 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 239 (Panel Decision)

How Do Amputations Occur on an Industrial Basis?

Occupationally related amputations can occur for many reasons.  The accident itself can be the source of the amputation, i.e. a skill saw cutting off a finger.  They can result of a crush injury which necessitates an amputation. They can be the result of post-surgical infection.  They can be the result of an industrially related disease process such as diabetes.

Interesting Amputation Facts Are:  

Males vs. Females

Men sustain most of the work-related amputations.  (84.8%) Gomez NG, Gaspar FW, Thiese MS, Merryweather AS. Trends in incidence and correlation between medical costs and lost workdays for work-related amputations in the State of California from 2007 to 2018. Health Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 1;4(3):e319. doi: 10.1002/hsr2.319. PMID: 34250271; PMCID: PMC8247939.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Employees

Full-Time Employees were more likely to sustain amputation versus Part-Time Workers. (71.7%.) Supra.

Most Amputated Parts

Most claims consisted of partial-hand amputations (82.0%).  Most of those were partial-hand amputations, 66.7% were fingers without the loss of the thumb. Following partial-hand amputations, partial-foot amputations were the next most common claim  at 5.9%.  Supra.

Type of Business

Manufacturing is the industry with the highest number of claims (24.1%.) Supra.

What Should an Injured Worker Take from This Study?

The study noted that “[a]mputations represent high medical costs and number of lost workdays.” Gomez NG, Gaspar FW, Thiese MS, Merryweather AS. Trends in incidence and correlation between medical costs and lost workdays for work-related amputations in the State of California from 2007 to 2018. Health Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 1;4(3):e319. doi: 10.1002/hsr2.319. PMID: 34250271; PMCID: PMC8247939.

Due to the increased medical expense and missed time from work, Insurance Companies will make efforts to control the costs.  They may do so by employing a Defense Counsel as well as a Nurse Case Manager.

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 over 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

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