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.

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.

COVID-19, HEALTHCARE WORKERS, AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

A recent Occupational COVID-19, Study addressed Coronavirus Work Injury Claims for Health Care Workers.  The study was done in Germany.  Nienhaus A. COVID-19 among Health Workers in Germany-An Update. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Aug 31;18(17):9185. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18179185. PMID: 34501773; PMCID: PMC8431697.

Healthcare Workers, being on the front line of medical care, are at significant risk for industrial COVID-19 infection injuries.  Infection rates appear to be different for each particular Healthcare Occupation.   Infection risk differs from support staff workers to nurses to doctors.  Likewise, the Healthcare Worker’s workplace can impact the infection risk. Facility types, i.e. hospital, nursing home, etc, can play a role in infection rates.

This article will discuss the study which addresses Healthcare Workers and their industrial COVID-19 infection rates.

What Health Care Facilities Are Impacted?

The study showed that “most claims concern inpatient and outpatient nursing (39.5%) or clinics (37.6%).” Supra.

In contrast, medical practices are not subject to as many claims.  It was reported that “As few as 3.2% of the claims concern medical practices.” Supra.

In other words, it appears that facilities which address extended patient care have greater rates than mere evaluations or examinations.

What Was the Claims Acceptance Rate for Occupational Injury?

 It was reported that “.. 77.5% of all claims were assessed, and in 81.4% of these, the OD(Occupational Disease) was confirmed.” Supra.

Thus, it appears in Germany that there is wide acceptance of industrial claims of injury for COVID-19.

How Are Healthcare Workers Impacted?

Nursing is the profession most impact with 68.8% of the cases. Supra.

Hospitals had the highest claims rates with 41.3 claims per 1000 full time workers. Supra.

What Was Treatment Severity?

It was reported seventy-seven workers died (0.09%) and three hundred and seventy-five (0.4%) were hospitalized. Supra.

The majority of workers got treatment clinics (52.3%) and inpatient and outpatient care facilities (28.0%)  Supra.

What Percent Claims Considered as Industrial?

 A total of 65,693 (77.5%) claims were assessed, and for 81.4% of these claims, the Occupational Disease was confirmed. Supra.

Where Was the Highest Frequency of Claims?

The Occupational Disease rate per 1000 full time workers highest in clinics, followed by inpatient and outpatient care (28.9 and 20.8). Supra.

Where Were the Highest Claims Rates?

The Occupational Disease rate per 1000 full time workers was highest in clinics, followed by inpatient and outpatient care (28.9 and 20.8). Supra.

The hospital breakdown was  per 100,000 full time workers highest for clinics (25.4), followed by inpatient and outpatient care (10.5) and medical practices (8.7). Supra.

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.

WCITN #4: Black Bear Problem On Aisle 3

While there were no work injuries, it was one that was quite memorable day for the Ralph’s Supermarket Employees at the Porter Ranch, California location.  A Black Bear went grocery shopping.  Brave workers were able to chase the 125 pound wild animal out of the store.   Eventually, wildlife officials were able to take the animal to a safe location. alt987fm

It is quite possible that the store employees or the wildlife officials could have injured themselves when they encountered the animal.

Are Animal Related Injuries Worker’ Compensation?

Yes. Workers who are injured by animals at work can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

What Types of Injures Can be Animal-Related?

There is a wide variety of ways a Worker can get injured by Animals.

  • Allergic Reactions: This can include Cats, Dogs and Horses for dander, Fish, Shellfish and Insects
  • Attacks: This can include Cows, Cattle and Dogs.
  • Bites: This can be from Cats, Dogs, and Insects
    • These bites can include venom. Bites can cause illnesses such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
  • Exposure/Inhalation: Workers can experience respiratory diseases as a result of exposure to animal products, dust, pathogens or chemicals(pesticides/disinfectants.)See Occupational Health (M Friesen and K Applebaum Section Editors) Published: 10 December 2019 Recent Research on Occupational Animal Exposures and Health Risks: A Narrative Review Caroline Dignard & Jessica H. Leibler Current Environmental Health Reports volume 6, pages236–246(2019)
  • Falls: Workers can fall off of ladders when being distracted by insects or fowl.
  • Goring: This can occur in the rodeo settling.
  • Interference: This can occur during transportation.   For example, Animals on roads causing drivers to swerve or stop.
  • Lifting: Certain Job tasks involve the lifting of both live and dead animals
  • Mechanical Interference:  Animals getting into machinery causing dysfunction. For example, Birds getting sucked into jet turbines.
  • Scratches: Scratches from cats can cause disease.

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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