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Oakland Worker Injury Law Blog

Table Saw Safety Will Likely Result from Lawsuits Since Neither Industry Nor Government Will Act

CV.jpgAnnually, more than 4,000 Americans suffer amputations while using table saws and nearly 30,000 more need emergency room treatment with lesser injuries. Sadly, these injuries don't have to happen at all. For many years now a table saw manufacturer called Sawstop (http://www.sawstop.com/ ) has manufactured its table saws using technology that stops a table saw blade nearly instantaneously when contact is made with human skin. Years ago I discovered this technology while investigating a table saw accident and had the opportunity to speak with Sawstop's owner. He imparted that the rest of industry has been resistant to this amazing technology because of its cost.

FAILURE TO REPORT A WORK INJURY CAN LEAD TO PROBLEMS

James Butler 2015_9319.jpgPractically no one expects to get hurt at work; the perception is that is what happens to other people. But, you may find someday that it happens to you. If you are injured at work there are some things you need to understand. First, work place injuries can happen in two ways under California law. First, an injury can be termed "specific" in nature; for example, when a person is injured falling off of a ladder that is a specific injury. Alternatively, an injury may develop over time; such an injury is referred to as a cumulative trauma injury. For example, a beverage delivery truck driver who moves heavy kegs over and over for a long period of time might develop cumulative trauma to his/her low back or some other body part from the repeated heavy lifting. Often, such claims reveal themselves through chronic pain which does not stem from a particular injury event.

Poor Access to Medical Treatment Made Worse by Workers' Compensation Carrier's Conduct

doctor.pngWorkers' compensation carriers continue to disrupt an injured workers access to necessary and appropriate medical treatment. These efforts affect the system in many ways, including, but not limited to: (1) keeping workers on disability longer than necessary, (2) adding litigation costs to the system, (3) increasing permanent disability awards for injured workers due to lack of treatment, and (4) unnecessarily taking up the time of the workers' compensation judges on such matters.

Exponent, Inc.'s Objectivity Called Into Question by Fair Warning

My office represents plaintiffs in personal injury cases and Applicants in workers' compensation cases. In the personal injury setting, defendants often hire a company called Exponent, Inc. to assist in the defense of such claims. Exponent describes itself as "a multi-disciplinary engineering and scientific consulting firm that brings together more than 90 different disciplines to solve important engineering, science, regulatory, and business issues." However, what is meant by "solving issues;" in my few encounters with the company, I have yet to have a case where Exponent validated the claims that my client was making. Is that a reflection of the validity of those cases or something else? Today, Fair Warning reports on Exponent's close connection with industry and calls into question the objectivity of Exponent's work. (Fair Warning is a nonprofit investigative news organization that focuses on public health, safety and environmental issues and related topics of government and business accountability.) Essentially, the article asserts that Exponent's cozy connection with industry leads to result oriented studies and opinions in litigation matters. Check out the article and let us know what you think: http://www.fairwarning.org/2016/12/exponent/.

Employer Fraud Continues in the Workers' Compensation System

CV.jpgEmployers attempt to hide injuries from the system so that their workers' compensation rates are not affected. Will the employer be prosecuted for this fraud? Sadly, no. Enforcement of fraud laws against employers is the only way to curb this type of conduct. Such action by a district attorney would be surprising. As a result, this type of conduct repeats itself as I have, unfortunately, seen too many times to recount. 

Insurance Carriers Add Costs to the Workers' Compensation System Again

CV.jpgWe have previously reported on the myriad ways in which workers' compensation carriers' procedures add costs to the system and thereby drive up insurance rates. Here is yet another example.

Hawaiian Gift of Good Luck and Good Fortune

FullSizeRender.jpgWe work hard to be of service to our clients and are grateful when our service is recognized. I was in Hawaii last week working on a legal malpractice case. Our client who had been a longshoreman, had injured his back and could no longer do his job. When I went to his house, he insisted on giving me a gift. He said that in Hawaii it is a tradition to give a friend a gift the first time they visit their home.

Employees or Independent Contractors? An Ongoing Issue. . .

CV.jpgAccording to Work Comp Central, in recent meetings, the Teamsters Union is demanding that Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners "ban companies who are breaking the law and have been found guilty by the state of California of classifying drivers as contractors when they are in fact employees." The Teamsters believe these companies are making blatant violations of labor laws operating out of the port.

Worker Dead After Trench Collapse

A trench collapsed last week while workers were installing a sewage line at a Portland, Oregon home, burying a 27-year-old man, Portland firefighters said. The man died as a result of the collapse, according to OR-OSHA. The man had been working at the bottom of a trench that was 11 feet deep, 3 feet wide and 70 feet long. The worker had been outside the protection of the shoring system when the trench caved in. (Oregonian and Cal-OSHA Newsdesk.)

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