FIREFIGHTER INJURY FREQUENCY AND WORKER’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

In California, the State, Counties, Municipalities, and Cities employ Firefighters.  Firefighting, like other safety positions, are dangerous occupations which have significant risk of injury.   Firefighters are expected to and are willing to put themselves in harm’s way to save lives.  Due to their injury rates, data concerning Firefighter Work Injuries have been studied as to the nature of their work injuries and their injury rates.  A recent RAND study provides some insight into the challenges that Firefighters face.

What Are Firefighters’ Work Injury Rates Compared to Others?

Compared to other occupations, Firefighters have high injury rates.  Their rate is slightly less Police Officers.   Between 2005-1017, the rates were 200 per 1000 workers for Firefighters.  This rate is compared to 35 to 50 injuries per 1000 for all workers. Dworsky M, Seabury SA, Broten N. The Frequency and Economic Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders for California Firefighters: Trends and Outcomes over the Past Decade. Rand Health Q. 2021;9(2):4. Published 2021 Aug 16.

What Are the Most Significant Injuries That Firefighters Sustain?

Of all types of injuries, 47 percent of all Firefighter injuries were musculoskeletal in nature.  Supra.

What Body Parts Do Firefighters Injure?

Compare to other occupations, Firefighters sustain more trunk, ie spine, and lower extremity injuries versus upper extremity injuries than other occupations.  Supra.

What Are the Causes of Injury for Firefighters?

Strains are the most common cause of injury for Firefighters.   Also, burn injuries are more common for firefighters. They represent 6 percent of their injuries.  Supra.

Do Firefighters Seek Psychiatric Treatment for Musculoskeletal Disorder Injuries?

It was found that there was no difference between psychiatric issues for firefighter versus workers in similar occupations.  Supra.

The caveat to this issue is whether Firefighters use their own health insurance to address psychiatric issues rather than workers’ compensation.  Further, there is also the stigma problem.  Firefighters may not want it known to Management and co-workers that they have mental health issues.

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.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION IN THE NEWS #6, THE BOSS WHO WAS PHILLY CHEESESTEAK KNIFED

In the City of Brotherly Love, a Philadelphia Cheesesteak Shop Owner was stabbed in the neck by an employee.  The news report indicated that the employee lunged “at his boss from behind and thrusting a 10-inch knife into his neck.”  It was also reported that the store owner’s son was present “his son grabbed two knives and tried to ward off the employee, the footage shows. nypost.com

After the attack, the store owner said, his son told him: “Dad, you have a knife in your neck … Don’t pull it out.”

In California, this incident may be considered as a work injury entitling either the owner or the son benefits.  There are several questions that need to be addressed to make a determination.

Can an Employer File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

The answer is “yes” and “no.”  In California, it is possible that a Business Owner can be covered under workers’ compensation.  Generally, if the company is a corporation and the owner is an employee of the corporation, they may be able to be covered as an employee.  This must be arranged within the policy’s terms.    If so, just like their fellow employees, an employer can file a work injury claim.

Thus, if covered, in the fact pattern reported above, the owner could file a claim for both his physical injury and possibly for a mental injury.

Can The Owner’s Son File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Yes.  If his son was a company employee,  he could file a claim. In California, if the son suffered emotional distress over witnessing the violent event,  it is possible that he could pursue a psychiatric workers’ injury claim.

It should be noted California Workers’ Compensation Law treats Psychiatric Injuries caused by Violent Events differently from other Psychiatric Injuries. If a Psychiatric Injury is caused by a Violent Event, the causation threshold for proving an injury is lowered. This means that it is easier to qualify to attain it.. For Violent Events, the causation standard is lowered to a substantial cause. This means at least 35 to 40 percent. See Labor Code Section 3208.3

Beyond Workers’ Compensation, Are There Any Other Benefits That Either The Owner or Son Could Collect? 

Even if the Owner or the Son are not considered an Employees, there is a special Victims Compensation Board Program in California.  The Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board administers the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP.) The program provides forms of compensation for victims of crime. The crimes, which may eligible for the program, can include domestic violence, child abuse, assault, sexual assault, elder abuse, molestation, homicide, robbery, hate crimes, drunk driving, vehicular manslaughter, human trafficking, stalking and online harassment.

To be eligible for compensation, a person must be a victim of a qualifying crime involving physical injury, threat of physical injury or death. For certain crimes, an emotional injury alone is enough to qualify. Certain family members and loved ones who suffer an economic loss from an injury to, or death of, a victim of a crime may also be eligible for 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.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION IN THE NEWS #5 : WHERE ARE MY DOGGONE BENEFITS?

Lady Gaga’s Dogwalker was in the news.  He was shot and left for dead while trying to prevent the dogs from being stolen.  The DailyMail.com recently reported he has launched a GoFundMe to help cover the costs of a road trip he’s taking to heal his ’emotional and mental health’. [Mr.]Fischer shared that the van he’s been traveling in for two months has broken down and he needs financial support.”

Are There Any Benefits That Mr. Fischer May Receive Through Workers’ Compensation?

Yes. However, Mr. Fischer would have to prove that he was an employee of Ms. Gaga at the time of the incident.  This would require a factual analysis concerning what he services he performed and how he was compensated.  It is possible that he could be considered as an employee and be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.  This would include payment of benefits and medical care.

If It Was A Workers’ Compensation Claim, Is There Anything Unique That Would Apply?

Yes.

In light of the fact that it was a shooting, a psychiatric injury may have occurred.  California Workers’ Compensation Law treats Psychiatric Injuries caused by Violent Events differently from other Psychiatric Injuries. If a Psychiatric Injury is caused by a Violent Event, the causation threshold for proving an injury is lowered. This means that it is easier to qualify to attain it.. For Violent Events, the causation standard is lowered to a substantial cause. This means at least 35 to 40 percent. See Labor Code Section 3208.3.

Beyond Workers’ Compensation, Are There Any Other Benefits That Someone Could Obtain In the Event of A Robbery and Shooting?

Even if he is not considered an Employee, there is a special Victims Compensation Board Program in California.  The Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board administers the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP.) The program provides forms of compensation for victims of crime. The crimes, which may eligible for the program, can include domestic violence, child abuse, assault, sexual assault, elder abuse, molestation, homicide, robbery, hate crimes, drunk driving, vehicular manslaughter, human trafficking, stalking and online harassment.

To be eligible for compensation, a person must be a victim of a qualifying crime involving physical injury, threat of physical injury or death. For certain crimes, an emotional injury alone is enough to qualify. Certain family members and loved ones who suffer an economic loss from an injury to, or death of, a victim of a crime may also be eligible for 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.

 

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.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION IN THE NEWS, EPISODE #2, A RESTAURANT COOKING UP STRESS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

A Restaurant closed for a “day of kindness” after enduring customers’ abuse. Nypost.com  Restaurant Employee stress is real.  Some of the story’s restaurant’s employees were reduced to tears from customers swearing, threatening, arguing, and yelling.

The story illustrated multiple stressors that restaurant employees experience.  Customer abuse was the highlight.  There were management problems as well. The Employer noted that they “.. have had to make adjustments due to the increase in business volume, size of kitchen, product availability and staffing availability.”

Can Work Stress Be the Basis for a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Yes. Work stress can be a source of psychiatric injury claim.   it can be the source of other stress related conditions.

Do The Restaurant Employees From the Story Have a Claim?

In California, the predominant cause of a psychiatric claim of injury arise from actual events of employment.  Further, good-faith personnel action which is substantial (35-40%) can defeat a claim.

In the story, the stressors did not come from employer discipline or write-ups.  Rather it came from Customers and Management organizational issues.  Thus, it can be argued that 100 percent of the work stressors do not fall within the personnel action defense.

Are Stressed Out Employees Eligible for Time off From Work?

Work stress can cause employees to go out sick. Mental Health Practitioners may take stressed out employee off of work.  This may entitle the Injured Worker to obtain benefits during their time off.   It should be noted that in the story, the workers, technically, never received a day off.  Instead, they spent the day cleaning the restaurant.

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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