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gilroy workers compensation lawyerA person who suffers injuries while working will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In many cases, an injured worker will file a workers’ comp claim for injuries that occurred in workplace accidents. However, benefits are also available in situations where a person experienced illnesses or health issues that were related to the work they have performed. When addressing occupational diseases, workers can get legal help from an attorney who can help them understand the types of benefits they can receive and address any issues that may affect their ability to receive workers’ comp benefits.

When Is an Illness or Disease Work-Related?

Workers’ compensation is available to address any health issues that arose out of the work a person has performed. Work-related illnesses may occur because of issues such as:

  • Exposure to toxic chemicals - A person may be exposed to harmful substances due to an accident in the workplace. For example, a chemical spill at a factory may release toxic fumes that are inhaled by workers, leading to issues such as lung injuries, skin disorders, or chemical burns. A person may also experience health issues due to regular exposure to low levels of toxic chemicals. For instance, agricultural workers may be exposed to pesticides on a daily basis, and these chemicals may cause illnesses such as respiratory disorders or cancer.

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gilroy workers compensation lawyerBeing injured while on the job can lead to many difficulties, especially if a person is unable to return to work while they are recovering. If an injury is serious enough, it can permanently affect the types of work that a person can perform, and this can impact the income they will be able to earn during the rest of their career. Fortunately, a person who suffers an on-the-job injury will usually qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. However, navigating the process of filing a workers’ comp claim can be complicated, and it is important to understand how both temporary and permanent disability benefits will be handled in these cases.

Disability Benefits in CA Workers’ Compensation Cases

If an injury causes a person to miss more than three days of work, or if they need to spend the night in a hospital while receiving treatment, they can begin receiving temporary disability (TD) benefits. These benefits will provide two-thirds of the amount lost due to being unable to work. In total disability cases, a person will receive two-thirds of their pre-tax wages. In partial disability cases where a person can work part-time or at a lower wage while recovering, they will receive two-thirds of the difference between their pre-injury wages and the amount they are currently earning. Notably, TD benefits are calculated based on all of the income a person was able to earn before being injured, including hourly wages, overtime, salary, bonuses, tips, commissions, food and lodging expenses, and income earned from other jobs.

TD benefits may be paid for a maximum of 104 weeks within five years after a person was injured. These benefits will stop being paid when a person’s doctor releases them to return to the work they had formerly performed. TD benefits will also stop when a person reaches the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI), even if they suffer permanent impairments that will cause them to be unable to return to work fully. In these cases, a person may qualify for permanent disability (PD) benefits.

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california truck driver injury lawyerEmployees who suffer work-related injuries can receive workers’ compensation benefits that will address their medical expenses and loss of income due to temporary or permanent disabilities. These benefits may be available to truck drivers who suffer on-the-job injuries. However, a truck driver’s ability to receive workers’ comp may be affected by their classification as an employee or independent contractor. Those who have suffered injuries will want to determine their options for receiving benefits or other forms of compensation.

Legal Issues Affecting Workers’ Compensation for Truck Drivers

Employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance that will provide coverage for employees who are injured while working. However, many truck drivers are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. Since they do not work directly for a trucking company or motor carrier, independent contractors may not be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. 

However, recent changes to the laws in California and ongoing court cases may affect how truck drivers are classified. AB5, a law that went into effect in 2020, applies what is known as an “ABC test” to determine whether a worker may be classified as an employee or independent contractor. Under this test, a worker may only be considered an independent contractor if they are not under the direct control of a hiring company when performing work, they perform work that is outside of a hiring company’s typical business practices, and they are involved in an independently established business or occupation. Under these rules, some truck drivers may be able to receive the benefits that apply to employees. The California Trucking Association has filed a lawsuit challenging this law, and a court has allowed it to be temporarily exempted from these rules. Depending on how this case proceeds, truck drivers’ ability to be classified as employees and receive workers’ compensation benefits may change in the future.

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gilroy workers compensation lawyerThere are multiple types of protections that apply to employees. Those injured in work-related accidents or who suffer health conditions because of their work have the right to receive workers’ compensation. A person will be eligible for these benefits no matter who was responsible for an injury. However, there are some cases where an employer or the company that provides them with workers’ compensation insurance may attempt to deny benefits by claiming that an injury was not work-related. If you have been injured in a workplace accident, or if you have suffered another type of work-related injury, you will want to make sure you take the correct steps to protect your right to receive workers’ compensation.

Steps to Follow After a Work Injury

  1. Report the injury to your employer - As soon as possible after being injured in a workplace accident or becoming aware of a work-related injury, you should inform your employer. You can notify a supervisor, a member of management, or a business owner. If you do not report an injury within 30 days after the injury occurred or after you discovered that work conditions affected your health, you may lose the right to make a workers’ compensation claim.

  2. Receive emergency medical treatment - Following an accident, you should go to an emergency room, urgent care center, or another medical provider to receive any immediate necessary treatment. When receiving treatment, you can inform the provider that your injury is work-related, letting them know that they should bill your employer for the treatment rather than requiring you to make payments.

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gilroy workers comp lawyerAnyone who has made an insurance claim is most likely familiar with the ways that a pre-existing condition can affect a case. Insurance companies may attempt to deny coverage because a person has previous injuries or existing health issues. This issue can also play a role in cases involving workers’ compensation insurance. An employer or their insurer may attempt to deny a claim by stating that a person’s injuries were not work-related but caused by a pre-existing condition. Injured workers will want to understand how to address these types of issues, and when they can make a workers’ comp claim based on the aggravation of a pre-existing condition.

Determining Whether an Injury Is Work-Related

Employees can receive workers’ compensation benefits for any injuries or illnesses that occurred due to the work they performed for an employer. In some cases, an employer or their insurer may claim that an injury occurred because of a person’s existing injuries or health issues rather than anything related to the work they performed. However, an injury or illness can only be considered a pre-existing condition if it was solely caused by an event that was not work-related or if it occurred outside of the work environment. If an injury or illness was partially caused by a pre-existing condition, the workers’ comp benefits a person can receive may be reduced based on the percentage of the injury that was related to their existing health issues.

Is an Aggravation of a Pre-existing Condition a New Injury?

If a workplace accident, an occupational illness, or the work a person performs causes a person’s existing injuries or health issues to become worse, they may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Typically, benefits will be available if the aggravation of a pre-existing condition is considered to be a new injury that occurred because of the work a person has performed. In general, a new injury must have led to temporary or permanent disabilities that are more serious than what a person had previously experienced, or new forms of medical treatment or changes to a person’s current treatment plan must be necessary to address the aggravation of a person’s condition.

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gilroy workers comp lawyerThere are many high-risk occupations where workers are at risk of being seriously injured. The agricultural industry is one of the most common sources of work-related injuries, and there are many ways that farm workers can suffer serious harm while on the job. Accidents involving tractors and other farm equipment can be especially dangerous, and workers who have suffered injuries in these types of accidents can work with an attorney to determine their options for receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Common Tractor Accidents and Equipment-Related Injuries

Tractors are one of the most frequent sources of serious or fatal injuries on farms. Workers who are operating tractors or who are working near tractors or other equipment, such as harvesters and combines, may be injured because of:

  • Rollovers/runovers - Tractors or other equipment may roll over for a variety of reasons, including driving at unsafe speeds, striking rocks or other hazards, operating a tractor incorrectly on steep slopes, or improper use of front-end loaders or other equipment attached to a tractor. Negligent operation of a tractor may also cause a worker to be run over. If a tractor rolls over on top of a worker or runs over a person, this may result in serious bodily harm, including damage to limbs requiring amputation or spinal cord injuries leading to paralysis. A tractor operator may also be injured in a rollover accident if a tractor did not have roll bars or other safety equipment meant to prevent injuries.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_599358509-min.jpgBeing able to hear correctly is crucial, and hearing loss can have a major impact on a person’s ability to perform work, as well as their daily life. As with other types of injuries, a person who suffers from work-related hearing loss may be able to receive benefits through workers’ compensation. In these situations, a person will need to understand when they will qualify for workers’ comp and the types of benefits they will be able to receive.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in the Workplace

Workers’ compensation benefits are available to those who suffered injuries or illnesses due to accidents in the workplace or because of the work they performed. In many cases, workers may suffer hearing loss because they are regularly exposed to loud noises while working. These issues may affect people who work around heavy equipment and machinery or in other noisy environments, including construction workers, factory workers, warehouse workers, agricultural workers, workers in the oil and gas industry, and those who are exposed to explosions or gunfire. 

Noise-induced hearing loss often involves damage to the hair cells in the inner ear that process sound vibrations and turn them into signals that are sent to the brain. When these cells are damaged, they will not grow back, and a person’s hearing will be permanently affected. The symptoms of this type of hearing loss may include difficulty hearing high-frequency sounds or understanding speech. A person may also experience pain in their ears or suffer from tinnitus, which involves ringing or whooshing sensations in the ears that make it difficult to hear other sounds.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_527706694-min.jpgThere are many different situations where a person may suffer work-related injuries. Accidents in the workplace, occupational diseases, or health conditions that a person experiences because of the work they have performed will usually qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. A worker who receives these types of benefits will have their medical expenses fully paid for, and they may also receive compensation to address part of the income they lost while recovering from their injuries. There may be some situations where a person is unsure about whether they qualify for workers’ comp benefits, including when they are involved in car accidents that are related to their work.

Car Accidents and Workers’ Comp Benefits

In almost any situation where a person is injured while working, they will be eligible for workers’ compensation. Injuries suffered in a car accident may qualify for workers’ comp if the person was working at the time of the accident. If a person was “on the clock” or was driving as part of their regular work duties, they will usually be able to receive workers’ compensation. However, workers’ comp generally will not cover accidents that occurred while a person was commuting to or from work, although exceptions may apply in some cases.

As with other types of work injuries, fault for a car accident usually will not affect a person’s eligibility for workers’ compensation. Even if a person was responsible for a collision, they will still be able to receive benefits that address a work-related injury. However, there may be some situations in which a person’s actions will make them ineligible for workers’ comp. For example, a person may not be able to receive benefits if they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of a collision.

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california workers compensation lawyerThere is no doubt that the COVID-19 has affected almost every area of Americans’ lives, including in the area of job injury and safety. Our firm has written numerous blog posts about the high risk of exposure many workers have to the virus, as well as posts regarding how the federal government, the state of California’s government, and employers are addressing the multiple COVID-19 issues workers face. But a recent study by the University of California has revealed just how vulnerable food service workers are.

Threats to Food Service Industry Workers

There have been multiple incidents from around the country regarding the incidents of violence many food service workers have experienced from customers upset about enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions many restaurants have in place. Just last week, in one story that went viral, a hostess at a New York City restaurant was attacked by three out-of-town tourists when she asked the guests to show proof they were vaccinated, per the restaurant’s policy. They responded to her question by punching her repeatedly in the face. This type of scene has played out over and over again in dining establishments across the U.S.

However, it is not violent customers that put food service workers most at risk. According to the California study, food service has become one of the most dangerous industries during the pandemic because of the high rate of workers who have died from COVID-19. That rate of death is higher than almost any other industry.

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Gilroy workers' compensation attorneyMany people who choose the career path of a flight attendant do so because of the many fringe benefits that go along with the job, including free flight and travel opportunities, compensation and benefit plans, and flexible schedules. What many flight attendants likely did not bargain for was the high risk of violence from unruly passengers. A recent survey reveals just how common—and how dangerous—that risk has become. If you have been injured on the job as a flight attendant, by a violent passenger or some other cause, workers’ compensation benefits can provide financial relief.

Violent Passenger Incidents for Flight Attendants

The Association of Flight Attendants conducted a survey of 5,000 of their members and found that more than 85 percent of participants had dealt with some level of unruly passengers in the first half of 2021. As air travel has again begun to increase after last year’s pandemic travel restrictions were lifted, the number of incidents has spiked. Almost 60 percent of participants had dealt with at least five confrontations with passengers, and just under 20 percent had experienced at least one physical incident.

Some of the more common incident types reported by flight attendants included:

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Gilroy workers' compensation attorneyThere are more than 11 million workers employed in the construction industry in the United States. While working in the industry can be a lucrative career, it can also be a dangerous one. The construction industry has one of the highest rates of worker injuries and death. If you have been injured in a construction accident, a Santa Clara County workers’ compensation lawyer can help you get the workers’ compensation benefits you may be entitled to.

High Injury Rate

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), 1 in 10 construction workers sustain work-related injuries each year. Fall hazards are the leading cause of these injuries. Many construction site accidents are the result of the employer failing to provide the proper safety equipment and/or safety training that is necessary to keep workers safe.

A recent contractor risk report compiled by insurance company AmTrust Financial Services reveals that workers who are employed by construction contractors who have been in business for less than four years make up 75 percent of construction industry workers’ compensation claim benefits that are paid out to injured workers. The report analyzed 26,000 claims that were filed over a 10-year period. California and Florida construction site accidents made up almost half of all the claims that the insurance company compiling the report paid out during the analyzed time period.

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California workers comp injury lawyersThere are a number of dangers that warehouse workers are exposed to every day that expose them to high risks of being injured. For example, warehouse workers are around forklifts every day, but forklifts are also considered one of the biggest hazards to worker safety, responsible for more than 100,000 work accidents each year. Warehouse workers also suffer injuries because of conveyor belts, working on loading docks, storage of materials, and the manual lifting and handling of materials they are required to do.

As dangerous as working in a warehouse can be, data reveals that Amazon warehouse workers are especially at risk. This has led to lawmakers in California to take steps that would require Amazon to be more transparent about their practices and ban some of the policies Amazon currently has in place.

Major Growth of Amazon

There is no doubt over the past several years, Amazon has dominated online shopping, surpassing all of their competitors. That domination increased even more with the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many millions of people staying home and avoiding retail businesses, Amazon saw their revenue soar to $368 billion in 2020. The company also ended the  year with 950,000 employees, the majority of those employees working in fulfillment centers. Amazon is the country’s second-largest employer, following Walmart, which is at number one.

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Gilroy workers' compensation attorneyUnlike some other forms of bodily injury insurance, workers’ compensation insurance is no-fault. This means that an injured worker’s claim cannot be denied even if the incident that caused the injury was caused by the employee’s own unintentional negligence. There are some exceptions to that rule, however. For example, if an employee was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident, the employer does have the standing to deny the claim.

But what happens if the employee has a medical marijuana card under California’s Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) and has been prescribed cannabis by their doctor to alleviate symptoms of a medical condition? Can a workers’ compensation claim be denied because of the employee’s use of medical marijuana?

California’s Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act

Under MAUCRSA, there are a variety of medical conditions that have been approved for medical cannabis use, including AIDS, cancer, arthritis, glaucoma, chronic pain, and seizures. A doctor needs to make a recommendation for cannabis use and specify the condition being treated in order for the person to apply to the state and obtain a medical marijuana card. But this type of recommendation is different from many other types of medical prescriptions because marijuana–even for medical use–is still illegal at the federal level.

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Gilroy workers' compensation attorneyOn Friday, August 13, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued updated guidance for employers in order to help protect workers from COVID-19. The updated guidance was issued due to recent developments with the virus, as well as the latest information and guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in July.

Updated Guidance and the Delta Variant

During the first six months of this year, as the COVID-19 vaccines became available to more people, the number of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims in California began to decrease. In June, the number of claims hit a 16-month low with just over 670 claims filed. However, in July, the number of claims spiked again, with more than 2,500 COVID-19 claims filed. This was almost equal to the total amount of claims filed in the state during the prior three months. It is estimated that when all valid claims for July are finally processed and approved, the total number will be closer to 4,000 claims for the month.

The spike in COVID-19 cases here in California and around the country is being attributed to the Delta variant, which is now the predominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S. The CDC has stated that this variant is more infectious and more transmissible than other variants, even for people who are fully vaccinated, which is why they issued updated guidance for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

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Morgan Hill CA workers compensation lawyerIn California, there have been 4,000 wildfire incidents so far this year. One of those fires, the Dixie fire, has been classified as the largest single wildfire in California’s history, burning for the past 26 days and already destroying almost 500,000 acres of property. As of this writing, the fire has been only 22 percent contained.

These wildfires put firefighters and other emergency workers at high risk of being seriously injured or killed, but the effects on California workers may be even more widespread. The state recently issued a warning to all California employers of the risk any employees who work outdoors may also be facing. If you develop an injury due to exposure to smoke, fire, or poor air quality in the course of your work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation.

Dangers of Wildfire Smoke to Outdoor Workers

The smoke that is produced in wildfires contains fine particles, chemicals, and gases that can cause injury or illness to anyone working outdoors. One of the most dangerous hazards is known as particulate matter, or PM2.5, which can impair a worker’s lung functioning, worsen asthma and other respiratory conditions, and worsen heart conditions. Workers exposed to these particles can suffer from wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.

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Gilroy CA workers' compensation attorneyWhile the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines was looked at with relief by many in the U.S., almost as many voiced their opposition to getting the vaccine. Like many issues, the debate has caused a significant divide between the two groups. As the vaccines became more widely available, many people who wanted the vaccine got it. Recently, however, there has been a slowdown in the number of people who are getting vaccinated, and this has led some employers to issue mandatory vaccine policies. One question raised by these mandates is whether employees will qualify for workers' compensation benefits if they have adverse reactions to the shot.

Side-Effects of the Vaccine

There are currently three different COVID-19 vaccines being offered to the public. The Moderna vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine and can be given to adults 18 years and older. Two shots are given, spaced 28 days apart. The Pfizer-BioNTech is also an mRNA vaccine and is available to anyone 12 years old and up. Two shots are given, 21 days apart. The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine is a viral vector one-shot vaccine and is available to adults 18 years and older.

Many people who get the vaccine have mild side effects, more so after the second dose. These side effects occur within three days of receiving the vaccine and usually last one to two days. The more common side effects include:

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Hollister, CA workers comp lawyerWork injuries and illnesses can happen to anyone. Traumatic accidents like an equipment malfunction, fall, or trench collapse can lead to sudden, catastrophic injuries. Repetitive motions like bending, twisting, or typing can lead to repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. Illnesses and diseases such as contact dermatitis and even cancer may also be a result of work environments. If you have suffered a work-related medical concern, you may be thinking of filing a workers’ compensation claim and recovering financial compensation. If so, make sure to avoid the following mistakes.

Common Mistakes When Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Any employer with one or more employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance is used to compensate an injured worker for medical bills and part of their lost income. Unfortunately, getting an adequate workers’ comp payout is not always easy. The following mistakes can make it even harder to get the compensation you need:

  • Not following your company’s policies for reporting an accident or injury - Some injured workers do not realize how badly injured they are until hours or days after the accident. If you are hurt at work, always report the injury right away – even if you think your injuries are minor.

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Gilroy workers comp lawyerWhen you have been injured while on the job, workers’ compensation can help to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other related expenses. Many work injuries result in temporary or even permanent disability. But what happens when someone who already had a disability is injured on the job? Millions of people who suffer from disabilities are still able to work. Are they also entitled to workers’ compensation benefits? If you or a loved one believes that you have a workers’ compensation claim in California, it’s imperative that you understand your rights.

 

The good news is that those who had a pre-existing disability prior to their work injury are generally still eligible to receive compensation benefits. However, these benefits come from an alternate source: the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF). The SIBTF helps to compensate those workers who already had an impairment or disability at the time of their workplace injury. However, there are some requirements.

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gilroy heat illness workers comp lawyerDuring the summer of 2021, California and many other parts of the United States have experienced record-breaking temperatures. This extreme heat has put many people at risk, especially those who work outdoors, around hot equipment, or in buildings without environmental controls. Employers are required to take the necessary measures to prevent heat illnesses for workers, including ensuring that they have sufficient water and access to shade. However, workers in high-risk occupations or others who experience extreme heat may still suffer heat-related injuries or illnesses. Whether this occurred because an employer did not take the proper safety precautions or for other reasons, employees can receive workers’ compensation benefits for any health issues that occurred because of the work they performed.

Common Heat Illnesses in the Workplace

Health issues resulting from extreme heat can vary in severity depending on factors such as the level of heat a person is exposed to and their underlying health conditions. These illnesses may include:

  • Heat stroke - If a person is unable to regulate their body’s temperature and cool off properly, they may overheat to temperatures of 106 degrees Fahrenheit or more. This can lead to confusion, slurred speech, seizures, and loss of consciousness. If the proper emergency medical treatment is not provided, this illness can lead to permanent disabilities or death.

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Workers Compensation Lawyer Gilroy, CAEmployees who are injured while working are eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits. Employers in California are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance, which will provide coverage for the medical expenses related to an employee’s injury, as well as disability benefits that address a temporary or permanent loss of income. However, if an employer does not maintain the required insurance coverage, an injured worker may be unsure about their options for receiving workers’ compensation benefits. In these cases, a person will need to work with an attorney to ensure they follow the correct steps to receive the benefits they deserve.

Workers’ Comp Benefits for Employees of Uninsured Employers

If an employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, an injured employee can still receive benefits through the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF). However, these benefits are not provided automatically, and an employee will need to follow certain procedures when making a workers’ compensation claim through the UEBTF. They will need to do the following:

  1. File a workers’ compensation claim form (DWC-1, Employee’s Claim for Workers’ Compensation Benefits) with their employer. Three copies of this form must be mailed or hand-delivered to the employer, and the employee should keep a copy for their own records.

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