Cramer and Martinez

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Photo of a Woman Returning to Work After an InjuryNot every workplace injury is sudden or caused by a specific event. Sometimes, injuries sneak up on workers gradually and develop over time. Repetitive exposures or activities on the job often lead to these conditions.Though many workers do not realize it, some are still entitled to workers' compensation benefits due to these injuries. A Santa Clara County or Gilroy, California workers' comp attorney can help you determine if you qualify. But first, you need to determine if you have one of these often overlooked workplace injuries.

Do I Have a Commonly Overlooked Workplace Injury

When an injury develops over time, workers and employers often overlook them. A few commonly overlooked work injuries include:

  • Hearing loss. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) claims that hearing loss is prevalent in noise-exposed industries. This can include jobs in construction, agriculture and forestry. Dangerous noise levels can damage eardrums, the bones in the ear or cause tinnitus. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), recurrent exposure to noise at 85 decibels or higher can cause hearing loss.
  • Lung problems. Workers often breathe in particles from their workplace. This often exposes them to chemicals, dust, and smoke from the work environment. Eventually, these hazardous particles can break down lung tissue and cause problems. This is why workers in industries such as mining, agriculture, manufacturing and construction have a higher prevalence of asthma and lung disease.
  • Musculoskeletal injuries. Musculoskeletal injuries can occur from repetitive motion and overuse. For example, jobs that require repeated lifting could lead to back injuries. Another common musculoskeletal injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. Cashiers, hairdressers and typists often suffer from this injury due to repetitive wrist movement. Repeating the same motion for your job often takes a toll on your joints. Over time, this type of work can cause inflammation, pain and even early arthritis. Generally, if you are repeating the same motion for your job, over time it could take a toll on your joints, causing inflammation, pain and even early arthritis.
  • Stress and anxiety are silent dangers in the workplace. Stress can wreak havoc on the human body by raising blood pressure and weakening the immune system, making it more susceptible to injury. Chronic stress could lead to depression and other psychiatric issues or even heart problems.
  • Psychological Injuries. California does recognize sychiatric injuries in its labor code. However, the worker must prove their psychiatric injury resulted predominantly from work, and their employer must have hired them at least six months prior to the claim. If a worker has been a victim of a violent act or has had direct exposure to a violent act over the course of their employment, then they must prove that at least 35 to 40 percent of their injury resulted from work.

Need to Speak With a Gilroy Workers Comp Attorney

At Cramer & Martinez, LLP, our workers' compensation attorneys help clients in Gilroy, Hollister, Morgan Hill and the surrounding areas of South County. We help you maneuver through the workers' compensation claim process for workplace injuries. Call us at (408) 848-1113 or fill out our online form to discuss your situation.

Coronavirus Patient Wearing a MaskThe COVID-19 pandemic impacted the majority of California workers significantly. Millions of people lost their jobs. Millions more worked from home during the statewide stay-at-home order. However, the government classified many employers as essential businesses. This forced many people to continue working despite the coronavirus pandemic. Examples of essential workers include:

  • Nurses
  • First responders
  • Maintenance workers
  • Warehouse employees
  • Farm workers
  • Grocery store workers
  • And more

Were you one of these essential workers employed in Santa Clara County, San Benito County, Santa Cruz County or Monterey County If so, then you may have many coronavirus-related questions. For example, can you recover workers' compensation benefits after contracting COVID-19 on the job A recent Executive Order by Governor Newsome makes it easier for you to do so.

California Workers Compensation News

The California Labor Code allows for workers' compensation benefits in California under the following circumstances:

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Photo of Gilroy Workplace Accident InjuryIf there is a job-related incident that results in an injury to an employee, the event has to be logged under one of the code titles in the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System, or OIICS. The OIICS is part of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it is designed to code the case characteristics of a job-related injury to an employee. Self-inflicted injuries, in relation to workers' compensation, is an injury that a worker does to himself or herself. This injury can be intentional or accidental, but it has its own claim process under workers' compensation regulations.

What Types of Jobs Result in High Amounts of Self-Inflicted Injuries

There are certain types of jobs that have a high risk for self-inflicted injuries. Some of these include:

  • Law enforcement
  • Medical employees
  • Farmers
  • Teachers
  • Salespeople

Some common self-inflicted injuries that can occur from these jobs include cuts, scrapes, broken bones, internal injuries and serious head injuries.

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Photo of a Woman Returning to Work After an InjuryMany individuals want to return to work after being injured because they enjoy the work they do what they love. Others want to return to work because they e seeking higher wages than provided by workers' compensation. Going back to work after a workplace accident is a process that includes your physician, employer, and claims administrator. It important that you receive approval from these parties to return to work promptly and safely.

What Determines My Ability to Work Again

It important to open lines of communication with the parties stated above for returning to work. Close contact throughout the proceedings will help you to get back to work quicker and easier. You must relay detailed information about the following to doctors, claims officials, and your employer:

  • The workload you had before your injury
  • Your medical condition and what work is possible now
  • The type of work your employer can make available to you per your medical condition

When I Return to Work, What Can I Do

Your doctor will report to the claims administrator to determine if it safe for you to return to work. It may be possible for you to return to work while you e recovering. During your recovery, the doctor the must report the following to your claims official:

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Photo of a Doctor and Patient talking about a workers Comp InjuryAfter suffering a workplace injury, you should visit your primary physician. If you need to file a workers' comp claim, your physician's notes will serve as documentation of your injuries. Sometimes, however, an independent medical examination is also required. An IME is usually requested by your employer's insurance company to confirm your primary physician's diagnosis. In either case, what you say to your workers' comp doctor can make or break your claim. Your statements will make it into the doctor's notes that will be later assessed as part of your claim. Our Hollister workers' compensation attorneys outline common mistakes to avoid below.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Speaking With a Workers Comp Doctor

  • Exaggerating your injuries. Your doctor needs to know the nature and extent of your injuries in order to treat them effectively. This cannot happen if you exaggerate, or even downplay, your condition. Further, if your doctor has doubts about the severity of your condition, they may not sign off on your workers' comp forms. Not only will an exaggeration affect the medical treatment you need, it may also seriously hurt your benefits claim. The best policy in this case should be honesty.
  • Lying about or failing to disclose prior injuries. If you have a prior injury, you may worry that this will affect your claim. However, the worst thing you can do is hide or lie about this injury to your workers' comp doctor. You doctor will be able to find this information anyway, and it may come back to bite you later. Instead, being honest with your physician may actually strengthen your case. Your physician may be able to rule out a connection between your current and prior injury. Or, they may be able to document how your current injury worsened your prior condition.
  • Providing inconsistent information. It is not uncommon for people to hurt their workers' compensation claims unintentionally. One way this happens is when people try to answer their doctor's questions without fully knowing the answers themselves. It is important to know that you do not have to guess or deduce the answers to your doctor's questions. If you do not know the answer, simply say so. Providing your best guess may result in inconsistent or inaccurate information that will later hurt your claim.

Need Help Filing a Claim Contact a Trusted Hollister Workers Compensation Attorney

The workers' comp attorneys at our firm have more than 50 years combined experience in this field. During this time, we have helped our clients navigate their claims and avoid these common mistakes at all stages of the process. This includes applying for benefits, appealing a denial, negotiating with employers and insurance companies, and fighting back against discrimination in the claims process. If you need help in securing your benefits, contact our offices today to learn more about our services. To schedule a free consultation, give us a call at (408) 848-1113 or send us a message online.

California workers' compensation lawyersWorkers’ compensation benefits can help an injured worker pay for medical expenses and other costs related to a work injury. However, filing a workers’ compensation claim and successfully recovering benefits is often more difficult than many workers expect. If your workers’ compensation claim was denied, you may be worried about how you will pay your bills and receive the medical care you need. Fortunately, you may be able to appeal a workers’ compensation denial.

Determining the Reason for Workers’ Compensation Denial

If you or your loved one was denied workers’ compensation after a work accident, you may be confused and unsure as to why the claim was denied. Workers’ compensation claims are denied for many reasons. In some cases, the insurer or employer may simply not have received enough information about the injury to make a proper assessment about workers’ compensation benefits. Mistakes made on the part of the injured worker or the insurer/employer may also lead to delays or denials. Workers’ compensation benefits are contingent on the injured worker meeting specific filing requirements and deadlines. The insurer or employer may also deny you if the way you were injured makes you ineligible for benefits. Injuries that occur while a worker is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, self-inflicted injuries, injuries caused by a preexisting condition, or injuries that are unrelated to work are not typically covered by workers’ compensation. Employers or insurance companies sometimes wrongfully deny workers’ compensation claims.

Appealing the Decision

If you were denied coverage under California workers’ compensation laws, you have the option of appealing the decision. To do so, you must file a form called a “Declaration of Readiness to Proceed.” You may then attend a hearing with the Worker’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) and argue your case in front of a judge. A workers compensation lawyer can help you fight for the benefits you need. Your lawyer will help you use medical records and other evidence to demonstrate your eligibility for workers’ compensation and represent you during the hearing. If a settlement cannot be achieved, your attorney can also represent you during trial.

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Photo of a Part-time Worker in CaliforniaPart-time workers get injured on the job just like full-time employees. As such, they suffer the same types of expenses and losses. Yet, many part-time workers believe that they cannot collect workers' compensation. Fortunately, this is untrue. In California, part-time workers are eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits. However, there are a few notable exceptions. Thus, it is important to speak to a Gilroy workers' compensation lawyer. He or she can help you understand your rights to compensation after a work-related injury.

Understand How California Workers Compensation Coverage Works

First, it is important to understand how California workers' compensation law protects injured workers and employers. First, employers must provide these benefits to employees who suffer an injury at work. Employees benefit because they do not have to prove liability or wrongdoing to obtain these benefits. The employer benefits by avoiding personal injury lawsuits when workers suffer an injury in their facility. However, there are some rules and requirements for collecting workers' compensation.Additionally, receiving workers' compensation in California is not a guarantee. For example, not all workers can receive benefits through the workers' compensation system, including:

  • Sole proprietors with no employees
  • Employer's spouse or children
  • Volunteers
  • Independent contractors

How Can I Determine if I Am a Part-Time Employee or Independent Contractor

Fortunately, part-time and seasonal employees can receive workers' compensation benefits in California. However, you may need help determining if you are a part-time employee or an independent contractor. Essentially, it is up to your employer to decide job classifications. There are no legal guidelines that determine if you are a part-time employee or a full-time employee. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that a worker who works under 35 hours a week is considered a part-time employee.Also, as an employee, it is important to understand that businesses and managers do not always play fair. For example, they may attempt to convince part-time workers that they cannot collect workers' compensation benefits after an accident. They may even misclassify an employee and claim that he or she is an independent contractor instead of a part-time employee. When this occurs, injured workers need someone on their side who can fight for their rights.

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What to Expect During a Workers Compensation Medical ExaminationIndependent Medical Examinations (IME) are often required for you to attend if you e been injured in a workplace accident. This is a separate examination outside of your examination to your regular treating physician. IMEs are requested by worker compensation insurance providers when there is a disagreement with your treating physician about work-related injuries. This examination is performed by medical professional that will provide their expert opinion on any disputes in your claim.

Before the Exam

Here are some vital tips for preparing for your exam:

  • Know the disputed information. The insurance company will send a report to the IME physician about your report injuries and illness related to the work injury claim. Requesting the letter and reviewing before hand is a good way to ensure you e on the same page with the IME medical professional.
  • Be up to date on your medical history. Make sure that you know your medical history, including surgeries, medications you are taking or any other pre-existing conditions. The IME doctor will inquire about all your medical history. This may help you in your claim disputes.
  • Detail the events of the accident. Review the incident and practice saying what happened before, during, and after the accident. It important for you remember all the details of the event. The IME doctor will be recording any changes in your story and it may be used in your dispute claim.
  • New symptoms. Many injuries you sustain can have continuing symptoms after the accident. Make sure to review your symptoms and pre-existing injuries to make sure you aren having any new symptoms.

What to Expect During the Exam

During the exam, it important to remember the above information as well as the following:

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California workers' compensation lawyersAlthough accidents do cause workplace injuries, there are other ways that you can be injured while working. For example, sitting for long hours at a desk and looking at a computer monitor for an extended period can cause bodily harm. Soft tissue injuries, back pain and neck issues are just some of the injuries that can occur after spending too much time in uncomfortable work positions. In addition, repetitive motions can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and other painful conditions. Fortunately, there are ways that you can lessen injury in the workplace. If you consistently spend long hours at your desk, then you should consider these work space modifications.

Adjusting Your Chair

It is important for your office chair to accommodate your height and posture. Therefore, you should adjust your chair to help you sit properly with both feet on the floor or on a footrest. Also, keep your thighs parallel to the floor to alleviate back pain.

Moving Your Keyboard

Along with office chairs, many office employees use keyboards on a daily basis. As a result, many people experience pain in their wrists and fingers. To reduce the risk for carpal tunnel, keep your keyboard lying flat always. Also, keep your wrists parallel to the floor and resist the urge to lean forward when typing.

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