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.

A HOSPITAL SHOOTING: INJURED WORKERS IN THE NEWS # 41

A tragic shooting occurred in a Tulsa Hospital.  The shooter had just received back surgery a few weeks before and was apparently not happy.  He killed the surgeon, another doctor, the receptionist and a patient.   The shooter then took his own life.

This article will discuss this matter under California Workers’ Compensation Law.  The discussion will be as to who is covered under workers’ compensation for this incident.  Additionally, the article will discuss what an Injured Worker can do within the workers’ compensation system if they feel that their back surgery was not successful.

Who Was An Employee In This Tragic Shooting?

While the tragic accident happened in the work setting, a hospital is a unique setting.  Doctor may have privileges at the hospital but they may not be employees of the hospital.  Likewise, they may be Private Practitioners and may be excluded from workers’ compensation coverage. Private Practitioners, however, may seek to be covered. If they have a corporation and are an employee of the corporation, it is possible that they could place themselves on the policy.  Assuming both doctors were self-employed, then only the receptionist, in this tragic shooting, would have been covered.

In the Workers’ Compensation Setting, How Does One Deal With An Injured Worker Deal With An Unsuccessful Back Surgery?

Back surgeries, in any setting, are complicated.  There are risks involved. Some procedures can take extended periods of time to heal. Some procedures are not successful.  Injured Workers in this situation can seek second opinions. They can also change of treating physician.  Further, other forms of treatment can be provided.  If there was significant pain,  a request for authorization for a Pain Specialist might be appropriate.  Likewise. a referral to mental health practitioner to assist an Injured Worker with emotional issues post-surgery.

Back surgeries can be so complicated that some doctors require a mental health clearance pre-surgery in certain circumstances.

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.

ATTACK AT HOSPITAL WITH MEDICAL WORKERS STABBED: INJURED WORKERS IN THE NEWS # 40

Headlines reported that Encino Hospital Workers were attacked a stabbed by an Attacker.  These workers were reportedly in critical condition.  Dailymail.com

This article will discuss the immediate concern on this matter.

What Is the Major Concern with This Incident? 

Given the facts and the assumption that the same knife was used in the attack each victim, it is likely that the workers may have been exposed to each others blood.   Thus, a long term issue is the concern with respect to this injury is whether the workers were exposed to a  Blood Borne Illness.  Blood Borne Illnesses include Malaria, Syphilis, and Brucellosis, and Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).  As such, treatment and monitoring for these illnesses would be part of the work injury protocol.  Thus, besides treating the Injured Workers  wounds and likely psychological injuries, an additional Internal Medicine Program will be included to provide prophylaxis treatment as well as testing and monitoring for blood borne pathogens.

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 #38: Was A United Airlines Worker Brawl With A Passenger A Work-related Injury?

A viral video shows a United Airlines Luggage Check-In Worker engaged in a fist fight with a customer.  The video shows the UA Worker punching the customer.  The video then shows the customer beating up the worker.  Dailymail.com

For the purpose of this post, we will take the video as the totality of the interaction. Thus, we will analyze whether the UA Worker can claim a work injury for the blows that he sustained. Again, the facts, for this hypothetical, are that the UA Worker came up to the customer and struck the customer.  The customer, in turn, then struck the UA Worker.

It is reported that prior to the blows that there was some interaction between the UA Worker and the customer concerning the customer using a wheelchair to transport luggage as opposed to paying for a luggage cart.

Can the UA Worker Claim An Injury With Respect to the Exchange of Blows?

Labor Code Section 3600(a)(7) prohibits recovery under workers’ compensation law in California “[w]here the injury does not arise out of an altercation in which the injured employee is the initial physical aggressor.” This is often referred to as the “Initial Aggressor Rule.” Thus, the fist fight injuries would not be covered as a valid claim. The reason being is that the UA Worker threw the first blow and therefore was the initial aggressor.

Could the UA Worker File a Different Claim?

From the facts of the case, the UA Worker apparently became agitated to the point that he decided to attack the customer. There is the possibility that a psyche claim could be filed.  From the video, it would appear that the UA Worker was unhinged.  A determination on this matter would be deferred to a mental health practitioner.

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.

NO PEACE, NO MCNUGGETS AT A MCDONALDS: INJURED WORKER IN THE NEWS, #33

There was no “Happy Meal” at a Boston McDonalds when minors allegedly terrorized the store.  The minors alleged conduct was so horrible that the Manager closed the restaurant.

It is alleged that these minors threw rocks and water bottles as customers and employees.

It is reported that “[a]fter the worker tossed a cup of Coke that got on one of the kids’ jeans, the group ran inside to look for the employee. That’s when one of the juveniles is accused of striking the employee “with a closed fist, causing a bump underneath (their) left eye,” the police report states. Boston EMS evaluated the worker, who refused to be transported to the hospital.” Bostonherald.com

This case will be analyzed under California Workers’ Compensation Law.

If the Worker Tossed the Cup of Coke, and Started the Incident, Would That Impact A Workers’ Compenation Claim?

Maybe. Labor Code Section 3600(a) (7) provides “[w]here the injury does not arise out of an altercation in which the injured employee is the initial physical aggressor.” This is a factual determination.  Prior to the coke cup toss by the Injured Worker, the minors may have already been throwing objects at the worker.  Thus, the minor may be considered as the initial aggressor.  Otherwise, the fact that the minor entered the store to search out the employee may give rise to that event as the initial physically aggressive act.  Alternatively, the tossing of the drink may not be ruled as to constitute a physical act.  Further, the nature of the physical injury may give rise to dismiss the initial aggressor defense.  A closed fist blow is truly a physical act as opposed to a tossed drink that got the minor’s pants.

If The Worker Initially Declined Medical Attention, Would That Impact A Workers’ Compensation Claim?

No.  There is no need to accept immediate medical attention.  Employers initially have medical control rights.  In this instance, McDonalds was responsible to provide the initial medical treatment.  At the time of the injury, the fact that the Injured Worker declined to go to the hospital would not bar the claim.  The Injured Worker, if they were in need of treatment, would be obligated to initially request treatment from McDonalds.

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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