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Gilroy, CA workers' compensation lawyerEvery year, thousands of workers are killed on the job in the United States. The vast majority of these deaths are preventable if the right safety precautions are taken. Today, we will discuss the "Fatal Four" workplace dangers that account for the largest percentage of worker fatalities each year. If you want to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, it is important to be aware of these dangers and take steps to protect yourself from them.

The Fatal Four

The construction industry is among the most dangerous industries for workers, accounting for about 1,000 workplace fatalities per year in this country. On average, about 60% of these fatalities are attributed to just four specific dangers that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has labeled as the “Fatal Four.” The Fatal Four include the following:

Fatal Four Danger #1: Falls From Heights

The first of the Fatal Four is falls. Falls from heights are one of the most common causes of workplace fatalities, accounting for over 350 deaths each year. If you work in a job that involves any kind of height, it is important to wear the proper safety equipment and to follow all safety procedures. Even if you simply use a ladder occasionally in the course of your job, you should be aware of the potential for falls at your workplace and take the appropriate precautions.

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Gilroy, CA workers' compensation lawyerMany people are under the false impression that they cannot collect workers' compensation benefits if they had a pre-existing condition before being injured at work. The good news is that this is not entirely true. If you have been injured at work, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits, regardless of whether you had a pre-existing condition. In fact, if you aggravated a previous injury while on the job, a qualified workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the benefits to which you are likely entitled under the law.

What is a Pre-Existing Condition?

For the purposes of this discussion on workers’ compensation, a pre-existing condition is a medical condition that you had before you were injured at work. It is important to note that a pre-existing condition does not have to be permanently disabling in order to be covered by workers' compensation. Even if your pre-existing condition was only temporary or minor, you may still be able to collect benefits if your workplace injury aggravated or worsened the condition.

How Does This Work?

Consider a scenario, for example, in which you sprained your ankle at work. You may have had a previous ankle injury that had healed before you started your current job. Your prior injury might have required physical therapy or even surgery to address. However, because of the new injury, the old injury was aggravated, and you are now unable to walk without pain. In a case like this, you would likely be eligible for workers' compensation benefits even though you had a pre-existing condition.

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Santa Clara County workers' compensation lawyerWorkers' compensation is a program that provides benefits to workers who are injured or who contract an illness at work. In California, the workers' compensation program is administered by the Department of Industrial Relations. Workers' compensation insurance is mandatory for all employers in California with one or more employees. This includes part-time, seasonal, and migrant workers. Employees who are injured on the job may be entitled to receive medical treatment, disability benefits, and other types of benefits. On-the-job injuries include injuries that are caused by a singular event, as well as those that develop over time—more commonly known as “repetitive stress,” “repetitive strain,” or “repetitive motion” injuries.

Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are a type of injury that can occur when a person performs the same motion over and over again. RSIs can happen at work if a person is required to perform the same task repeatedly over the course of weeks, months, or even years. Some examples of jobs that may put workers at risk for RSIs include assembly line work, data entry, office work, and factory work.

Common RSIs and Their Symptoms

There are many different types of repetitive stress injuries, and you are probably familiar with at least some of them. The most common RSIs that can occur on the job include:

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Gilroy, CA workers compensation lawyerIf you were hurt in a car crash while you were driving for your job, you may have questions about who will pay for your injuries, especially if you have to miss work for any length of time. In most cases, you will probably qualify for workers' compensation benefits, which can help cover your medical costs and a percentage of your lost wages. The good news is that you might have other options for collecting additional compensation.

Steps to Take

The first thing you should do after a car accident is to seek medical attention, even if you do not think you were seriously hurt. After all, some injuries, such as whiplash, may not be immediately apparent. Once you have been seen by a doctor and have a diagnosis of your injuries, you can start the process of filing a workers' compensation claim.

To begin your claim, you will also need to report the accident and your injuries to your employer. If your employer carries workers' compensation insurance, then you should be covered for your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages. All employers in California are required by law to have this type of coverage, so if yours does not, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit directly against the company for whom you work.

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Gilroy, CA workers' compensation lawyerIn the state of California, workers’ compensation benefits are intended to help workers who have been hurt on the job get their medical bills paid and receive payment for lost wages. The workers’ compensation system is not based on fault. You can often get workers’ compensation benefits even if your own negligence led to your injuries. You are not able to sue your employer for work injuries in most cases. 

Before you can receive workers’ compensation benefits, you will need to prove you are a covered employee under California law and that you were injured in the course of your job. You will also need to demonstrate the extent of your injuries.

Are You Covered?

The law, in most cases, will assume that you are covered by the workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation generally only applies to employees. If your employer believes you are an independent contractor instead of an employee, your employer will need to prove that you are not an employee. In such a case, you may need to show why you believe you are an employee.

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